This floating fortress is by far the most powerful ship ever built in Britain that will enable us to tackle multiple and changing threats across the globe.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon

There were just 35cm either side of the gigantic hull as the carrier squeezed through the lock at Rosyth, and a mere 50cm separated the keel from the lock bottom as 11 tugs assisted Queen Elizabeth into the Forth.

 

That delicate manoeuvre, practised more than 30 times in simulators, took place at high tide. Leaving the estuary must take place around low tide – and even then the pole mast must be lowered at a 60-degree angle to allow the carrier to fit under the rail bridge. 

 

“This is a hugely significant moment for the Royal Navy, for all our Armed Forces – and for our island nation. Once in service, Queen Elizabeth will be the largest aircraft carrier in the world outside the United States," said First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

 

“There is still much work to do between now and then, but be in no doubt: a new era of British maritime power is about to begin.”

 

The carrier’s departure is one highlight of a national effort which has involved more than 10,000 people across the land – not least six shipyards – devouring 51,000,000 man hours.

 

Now, says Capt Kyd, the moment has come to see how the ship handles in the real world.

 

"There are very exciting times ahead," he said. “To see her just as a ship is too simplistic. HMS Queen Elizabeth is a mobile four-and-a-half-acre airfield.

 

“What that means to the UK’s defence is that she’ll be deployed around the world, a very flexible asset used by all three Services.

 

“There is an absolute and compelling reason to have aircraft carriers. We are an island nation, absolutely dependent on trade by sea – and law and order on the world’s sea routes.

 

“If you are an outward-facing nation like global Britain, an aircraft carrier sends a real message to allies – and potential enemies – that we mean business.”

HMNB Portsmouth

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Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering)

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