The Royal Navy has a carrier again. HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of a two-ship class (the second will be HMS Prince of Wales), was commissioned today in a ceremony attended by Queen Elizabeth II and a number of other members of the Royal Family.
Her Majesty The Queen takes the salute at the commissioning of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Queen spoke at a ceremony in Portsmouth's Naval base this morning, attended by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne, Prime Minister Theresa May, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, military chiefs and former Prime Ministers (Ministry of Defense Photo)
According to a release from the British government, the vessel will conduct helicopter trials early in 2018 before heading off to the United States to carry out trials with the F-35 Lightning. The carrier will be able to perform a number of missions, ranging from high-end warfighting to humanitarian relief.
"The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will sit at the heart of a modernized and emboldened Royal Navy, capable of projecting power and influence at sea, in the air, over the land and in cyberspace, and offering our nation military and political choice in an uncertain world," Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said during the ceremony.
The Royal Navy's largest ever warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is gently floated out of her dock for the first time in Rosyth, Scotland in July 2014. (Photo from U.K. MOD)
At 64,600 tons, this carrier is the largest ship to ever serve in the Royal Navy. Previously, that title belonged to the battleship HMS Vanguard, which served from 1946 to 1960. In a June 2017 report, The Sun noted that this ship left the builders' yard in Fife with just 14 inches to spare on either side.
"Our new aircraft carrier is the epitome of British design and dexterity, at the core of our efforts to build an Armed Forces fit for the future. For the next half a century, both carriers will advance our interests around the globe, providing the most visible symbol of our intent and commitment to protect the UK from intensifying threats, wherever they may come from," Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said during the ceremony.
A F-35B Lightning II hovers before landing aboard the USS America (LHA 6) during the Ligthning Carrier Proof of Concept Demonstration, November 19, 2016. Marine Corps F-35s could be deployed on HMS Queen Elizabeth. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Thor Larson)
It should be noted the ship is still years from being fully operational. The British are reportedly considering using United States Marine Corps F-35s on HMS Queen Elizabeth's first deployment, which might require some adjustments.