Hundreds turned out as the biggest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth, arrived in her home port of Portsmouth

16 August

The crowds turned out to watch as Britain’s largest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, entered her home port of Portsmouth for the first time just after 7am.

The crew of the 918-foot long aircraft carrier proudly stood on deck as she was accompanied into the port by a flotilla of boats.

a warship arriving in Portsmouth

HMS Queen Elizabeth in her home port. Credit: Getty Images

Among those who turned out to see her arrival was the America’s Cup skipper, Sir Ben Ainslie.

A tweet by Ben Ainslie on the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth

The 65,000-tonne ship, which has cost £3.1 billion to build, then berthed at the Princess Royal Jetty.

Since June, HMS Queen Elizabeth has been undergoing sea trials in the North Sea, setting off from the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland.

The UK's largest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth

Arriving into Portsmouth. Credit: Getty Images

She has sailed with the USS George HW Bush and her carrier strike group, during Exercise Saxon Warrior earlier this month.

The leviathan has been built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a coalition of the Ministry of Defence, Royal Navy and industry.

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A crew of 1,600 will be stationed on HMS Queen Elizabeth, which can house up to 40 aircraft.

It will be several yeas before the carrier is fully operational.

People photograph the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth

People line the shore to watch her arrival. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron will be on long standing duty on board, protecting the ship from any submarine which might threaten the vessel.

Next year, F-35B Lightning fighter jets are due to make their first trial flights from the carrier’s deck. Around 120 aircrew are currently training in the US.

Royal Navy personnel stand on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth

Crew line the deck as HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth. Credit: Getty Images

The Ministry of Defence has spent around £100 million to ready Portsmouth for the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth, and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales which is still under construction.

New navigational lights have been installed as part of the infrastructure work.

The entrance to Portsmouth Harbour has also been extensively dredged, resulting in the discovery of a number of unexploded German World War Two bombs and even a human skull.

 

15 August

The Royal Navy has announced that Britain’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is set to enter her new home in Portsmouth tomorrow morning (16 August).

The 65,000-tonne carrier, the biggest warship ever to be built in Britain, has been undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Scotland’s Rosyth dockyard in June.

Three Royal Navy ships off Scotland

HMS Queen Elizabeth during her maiden sea trials off the coast of Scotland, joined by frigates HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke. Credit: PA Images

She is now set to make her historic arrival into Portsmouth on Wednesday, where she will be the latest in a long line of famous Royal Navy ships to call the port.

Depending on conditions, the ship is expected to arrive at the Outer Spit Buoy at 0649 and pass the Round Tower at 0709, accompanied by a flypast of Fleet Air Arm Merlin & Wildcat helicopters, plus Hawk jets of 736 NAS from Culdrose.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will begin berthing at Princess Royal Jetty about 10 minutes later. This whole process could take up to two hours.

 

The Royal Navy said weather conditions meant the exact date of the historic moment could not be confirmed until now.

Tens of thousands of people are expected to come to see the 65,000-tonne carrier as it arrives, and people are being advised that there will be significant disruption in Portsmouth and Gosport as a result.

There will be restrictions on boats moving around Portsmouth Harbour before, during and after the carrier’s arrival.

Anyone thinking of making plans to travel within the harbour tomorrow should check the restrictions issued by the Queen’s Harbour Master.

Road closures will be in place in Portsmouth city centre, Southsea and Old Portsmouth. A full list is available from the Portsmouth City Council website.

People are being advised to use the city’s park and ride located on the M275 entrance to Portsmouth, and extra services will be running for the event.

There will also be disruption to Gosport, and a park and ride scheme has been laid on by Gosport Borough Council.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first aircraft carrier since the Royal Navy got rid of HMS Ark Royal in 2010.

The UK's largest warship - HMS Queen Elizabeth

Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A second Queen Elizabeth class carrier is also being built. The HMS Prince of Wales will eventually join HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth.

27 June

HMS Queen Elizabeth has set sail from the Rosyth dockyard in Fife.

The new aircraft carrier is the biggest warship ever built for the Royal Navy.

At 280-metres, it is longer than the Houses of Parliament (265-metres).

It is one of two Queen Elizabeth class carriers being constructed, at a cost of more than £6 billion.

A huge grey warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth at a dockyard in Scotland

HMS Queen Elizabeth at Rosyth. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Both the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales are expected to last 50 years.

The 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth set out from Rosyth on the Firth of Forth, helped initially by 11 tugs.

Once out of the dockyard entrance, it waited for low tide to get underneath the Forth bridges before the carrier headed to the North Sea for trials.

The ship is the first aircraft carrier since the Royal Navy got rid of HMS Ark Royal in 2010.

a drawing showing the layout of the HMS Queen Elizabeth

HMS Queen Elizabeth. Credit: Press Association Images

A crew of 1,000 will operate HMS Queen Elizabeth, which can house up to 40 aircraft.

Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) – known as the Flying Fish – will be on long standing duty on board, protecting the leviathan from any submarine which might threaten the vessel.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a coalition of the Ministry of Defence, Royal Navy and industry, is building HMS Queen Elizabeth and its sister ship, Prince of Wales.

It will be several years before the aircraft carrier will be fully operational.

Both of the new aircraft carriers will be based at Portsmouth, and the Ministry of Defence has already spent £100 million to ready the port for their arrival.

New navigational lights have been installed as part of the infrastructure work.

The entrance to Portsmouth Harbour has also been extensively dredged, resulting in the discovery of a number of unexploded German World War Two bombs.