Racing pigeon finds new home on HMS Queen Elizabeth

A missing racing pigeon has made a new home – nesting in the hangar of Britain’s biggest warship in the North Sea.

Confused and exhausted, the bird sought sanctuary aboard aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, currently training with the UK’s sole operational F-35 stealth fighter squadron.

The pigeon landed on the vast flight deck of the ship while she was off East Anglia and nested down for the night in the cavernous hangar.

The sailors on watch found the bird as they were stowing the F-35 Lighting jets from 617 Squadron – The Dambusters – after a busy day of flying.

Air Engineering Technician Alexander Thomason said: “I was just putting the lashings on the jet when I looked up and saw this pigeon nestled behind the hangar gantry. It appeared pretty pleased to be there if I’m honest. We’ve named her Pauley.”

 

I was just putting the lashings on the jet when I looked up and saw this pigeon nestled behind the hangar gantry.

Air Engineering Technician Alexander Thomason

After being given a bit of a run-around by the feathered stowaway, the team from HMS Queen Elizabeth managed to catch the bird and are now looking for a safe place onboard for it to live while they search for the owner.

Lieutenant Commander Jerome Pethrick, in charge of aircraft maintenance, said: “I know the hangar team would love to let the pigeon fly around all day but sadly (for them) it’s just not safe. We have to find somewhere without jet engines.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth has been at sea for the past few days conducting Carrier Sea Training with 617 Squadron from RAF Marham. It comes ahead of the global Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment.

The ship will be taking good care of Pauley until they return home to Portsmouth at the end of June.