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HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales are united for first time

Sailors were welcomed home today as the Royal Navy’s two giant aircraft carriers worth £3billion each docked together, stern to bow, for the first time at their home base of Portsmouth.

The 65,000-tonne warship HMS Queen Elizabeth has arrived at the Hampshire naval base three weeks before Christmas after a three-month deployment to the US for test flights of her F-35B Lightning jets.

She manoeuvred into place alongside sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, which arrived for the first time last month at Portsmouth and will be commissioned later this month by Prince Charles and Camilla on December 10.

At the same time, two of her escorts, HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce, returned to warm welcomes in Devonport in Plymouth – and made their way to their respective homes at RNAS Culdrose and Yeovilton. 

As the ship sailed into the harbour this morning, the crew tweeted: ‘What a beautiful morning for our entry. It’s hard to believe just weeks ago we were flying F-35’s from these decks for the very first time. Home is in clear view.’

HMS Queen Elizabeth enters Portsmouth Harbour today (left) to dock alongside sister carrier HMS Prince of Wales (right)

HMS Queen Elizabeth (right) arrives in Portsmouth today to come alongside its identical sister ship HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Queen Elizabeth (right) arrives in Portsmouth today to come alongside its identical sister ship HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Queen Elizabeth joins HMS Prince of Wales for the first time at the Royal Navy dockyard in Portsmouth today

HMS Queen Elizabeth joins HMS Prince of Wales for the first time at the Royal Navy dockyard in Portsmouth today

Lynsey Allen (centre) from Lee-on-the-Solent, with her daughters Florence, two, (pink jacket) and Lottie, four, (glasses) wave home husband Commander Chris Allen arriving on board HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth Naval Base this morning

Lynsey Allen (centre) from Lee-on-the-Solent, with her daughters Florence, two, (pink jacket) and Lottie, four, (glasses) wave home husband Commander Chris Allen arriving on board HMS Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth Naval Base this morning

Sailors excitedly wave from HMS Queen Elizabeth today as their ship arrives at Portsmouth Naval Base in Hampshire

Sailors excitedly wave from HMS Queen Elizabeth today as their ship arrives at Portsmouth Naval Base in Hampshire

Officers wave to families as HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth today to come alongside HMS Prince of Wales

Officers wave to families as HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth today to come alongside HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Queen Elizabeth (right) arrives in Portsmouth today to come alongside its identical sister ship HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Queen Elizabeth (right) arrives in Portsmouth today to come alongside its identical sister ship HMS Prince of Wales 

Charlie Keane with children Theo, nine, and Molly, five, look out for father Lieutenant Commander Joseph Keane at Portsmouth today

Charlie Keane with children Theo, nine, and Molly, five, look out for father Lieutenant Commander Joseph Keane at Portsmouth today

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth enters Portsmouth Harbour to tie up alongside sister carrier HMS Prince of Wales today

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth enters Portsmouth Harbour to tie up alongside sister carrier HMS Prince of Wales today

People watch from the shore as HMS Queen Elizabeth approaches Portsmouth Harbour this morning

People watch from the shore as HMS Queen Elizabeth approaches Portsmouth Harbour this morning

HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH 

Weight: 65,000 tonnes

Length: 920ft (280m)

Draught: 36ft (11m)

Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h)

Range: 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km)

Crew capacity: 1,600

Launched: June 2017

Commissioned: December 2017

Entering service: 2020  

HMS PRINCE OF WALES 

Weight: 65,000 tonnes

Length: 932ft (284m)

Draught: 36ft (11m)

Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)

Range: 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km)

Crew capacity: 1,600

Launched: December 2017

To be commissioned: 2020

Entering service: 2023

Identical twins Luke and Kurtis Williams, 29, who both serve as leading airmen on HMS Queen Elizabeth – which itself is identical to twin HMS Prince of Wales – were welcomed by their family as they arrived in their home city.

Kurtis, who was met by his son, Harry, jokingly said that having a twin on board had its perks as they could pretend to be each other, adding: ‘He does the duties so I’ve got perks as I don’t have to do as many.’

Luke said: ‘Everyone seems to know us. They think we go around the galley twice.’

The Queen Elizabeth, which can carry up to 40 aircraft and has been dubbed ‘Big Lizzie’, and her carrier strike group sailed from the UK in August to carry out the flight tests involving UK jets for the first time.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commanding officer of Queen Elizabeth, said: ‘Homecomings are always a special occasion, but to be returning to Portsmouth, with HMS Prince of Wales welcoming us home makes this a particularly special occasion. This has been an extremely successful deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth. 

‘Embarking UK F-35B Lightning for the first time and integrating them within the carrier strike group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021.’

Sailors from HMS Northumberland are welcomed home in Plymouth today after three months escorting HMS Queen Elizabeth

Sailors from HMS Northumberland are welcomed home in Plymouth

Sailors from HMS Northumberland are welcomed home in Plymouth today after three months escorting HMS Queen Elizabeth

A sailor from HMS Northumberland is welcomed home to Plymouth today after three months escorting HMS Queen Elizabeth

A sailor from HMS Northumberland is welcomed home to Plymouth today after three months escorting HMS Queen Elizabeth

The crew of HMS Northumberland and their families smile as they are reunited in Plymouth today in time for Christmas

The crew of HMS Northumberland and their families smile as they are reunited in Plymouth today in time for Christmas

Officers from HMS Northumberland smile and wave as they are welcomed home at Devonport in Plymouth this morning

Officers from HMS Northumberland smile and wave as they are welcomed home at Devonport in Plymouth this morning

Families greet sailors as they arrive home in Plymouth today

A sailor waves as she arrives home in Plymouth after three months serving on board HMS Northumberland

Families greet sailors as they arrive home in Plymouth today after three months serving on board HMS Northumberland

Captain James Blackmore, commander of the air group for the UK carrier strike group, said: ‘The five-week period of Operational Tests with UK F-35Bs from the UK Lightning force was significant and historic.

‘As the last pilot to fly Harrier from the deck of HMS Ark Royal in 2010, it filled me with tremendous pride to see UK fixed-wing aircraft operate once more from a British carrier.’

The HMS Queen Elizabeth was launched in 2014, while HMS Prince of Wales was launched in 2017. Major upgrade work has been carried out on the jetties at Portsmouth so that the two giant ships can berth next to each other.

During their 50-year service, the two 919ft (280m) long aircraft carriers can be pressed into action for various work such as high-intensity war fighting or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. 

Crowds at the Hot Walls and Round Tower near the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour to watch HMS Queen Elizabeth today

Crowds at the Hot Walls and Round Tower near the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour to watch HMS Queen Elizabeth today

The 65,000-tonne warship manoeuvred into place alongside its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, in Portsmouth today

The 65,000-tonne warship manoeuvred into place alongside its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, in Portsmouth today

HMS Queen Elizabeth (front) arrives into Portsmouth this morning, with HMS Prince of Wales alongside her to the rear

HMS Queen Elizabeth (front) arrives into Portsmouth this morning, with HMS Prince of Wales alongside her to the rear

HMS Queen Elizabeth (front) is seen alongside her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales for the first time at Portsmouth today

HMS Queen Elizabeth (front) is seen alongside her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales for the first time at Portsmouth today

The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in at an enormous four acres, equivalent to two football pitches

The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in at an enormous four acres, equivalent to two football pitches

HMS Queen Elizabeth passes by the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth as it arrives home for Christmas this morning

HMS Queen Elizabeth passes by the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth as it arrives home for Christmas this morning

 

Both ships were constructed in Rosyth, Scotland. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy. The enormous warship is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft.

The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in at four acres, equivalent to two football pitches, and will be used to launch the brand new F35s jet. Four jets can be moved from the hangar to the flight deck in one minute.

As well as state-of-the-art weaponry and communications systems, HMS Queen Elizabeth has five gyms, a chapel and a medical centre. She has a top speed of 32 knots (59 km/h) and a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000km).

State-of-the-art warship will go to sea with 66,000 bangers on board (and 12,000 tins of beans)

  • The design of the Queen Elizabeth class of carriers began in 1999 and the ships are expected to have a 50-year service life.
  • The carriers can travel in excess of 25 knots per hour, have a range of 10,000 nautical miles and they are designed for deployments typically lasting nine months.
  • Each ship can keep 45 days’ worth of food in their stores and a typical deployment would sail with 66,000 sausages, 28,800 rashers of bacon, 64,800 eggs and 12,000 tins of beans.
  • The ships have 67 catering staff and have their own bakery which can produce 1,000 loaves of bread per day.
  • Each flight deck is 70 metres wide and 280 metres long, which is enough space for four jumbo jets.
  • The ships are 56m from keel to masthead which is six metres taller than Nelson’s Column, and each ship has 17 decks and 15 lifts.
  • Each ship can operate on a crew of 679, which, despite the ships’ size, is fewer crew members than for the Invincible class aircraft carriers that they replace.
  • Each ship can accommodate up to 1,600 personnel, which would include a full air crew, but also provides space for embarked personnel such as Royal Marines.
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth’s home berth, Sheer Jetty at Portsmouth Naval Base, has been in use since the 1600s and sits opposite HMS Victory, the world’s oldest commissioned warship.
  • The ships will fly the F35-B fighter jets – which can fly at 1.6 mach – as well as any type of helicopter used by the UK armed forces.
  • Each ship will be able to fly 72 fast jet sorties per day, which can be increased further for limited periods.
  • It takes 60 seconds to lift four aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck on each of the two lifts and the ski-jumps that are used for take-off are 6m high.
  • Each ship will sail with an escort vessel, such as a Type 45 destroyer, which takes the lead in engaging threats.
  • Each ship generates 80MW of power in their propellers, which is equal to 50 high speed trains.
  • The fog horn is 162 decibels and can be heard from more than two miles away.
  • The ships have their own police office and cells as well as their own dentist, pharmacy, surgery and operating theatre, fitness suites and cinemas.
  • Each ship can convert sea water into more than 500 tonnes of drinking water each day, which is for both the crew and providing humanitarian relief.
  • Each ship is made up of 17 million parts and there are more than 250,000km of electrical cable and 8,000km of fibre optic cable inside each of the ships.
  • There are also 364,000 metres of pipes inside each of the ships, which could stretch from Rosyth to Wales.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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