Queen Elizabeth II has attended the commissioning ceremony of Britain’s new aircraft carrier, which is named after the monarch.
The 91-year-old queen boarded the Royal Navy’s newest, largest and most expensive vessel Thursday in Portsmouth naval base.
The white ensign was raised to mark the moment HMS Queen Elizabeth was officially added to the Royal Navy’s fleet. The queen says the ship “embodies the best of British technology and innovation.”
It is still undergoing sea trials and will not be fully operational for several years. It will head to the US late next year for initial flight trials. US F-35 jets have already practiced taking off on ski-jump style ramps like that on the Queen Elizabeth.
Source: The Aviationist
The UK’s first sea lord, Adm. Philip Jones, said that with the new carrier “Britain has confirmed her place among the world’s great maritime powers.”
The ship, which cost roughly 3 billion pounds, or $US4 billion, took eight years build. Its construction took place in six cities and involved 10,000 people. The 919-foot, 65,000 metric ton ship can operate with a crew of 1,000 and 40 aircraft. Along with sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, it is part of a defence program worth $US7.65 billion.
The UK has been without any carrier-strike capability since 2010, when its earlier ships were scrapped as part of austerity measures.
Queen Elizabeth named the ship in 2014, smashing a bottle of champagne on its hull.
The carrier’s development and trials were dogged by controversy. Questions were raised about the need for a massive carrier in light of the UK’s reduced military role in the world. Problems with the US-made F-35 fighter jet, which is to be deployed on the carrier, also marred the project.
The carrier also attracted attention amid ongoing tensions between Moscow and NATO member countries. Over the summer, the UK defence minister and his Russian counterpart exchanged barbs about their respective carriers, and during the Queen Elizabeth’s sea trials in June, a Russian submarine was spotted shadowing the drills.
Then-UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon called Russia’s sole aircraft carrier “dilapidated” and said Moscow likely looked at two carriers Britain was building with “a little bit of envy.” In response, the Russian Defence Ministry touted their carrier’s defences and called the Queen Elizabeth “nothing but a big, convenient target in the sea.”
Source: Business Insider
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