The British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to undergo its first dry-docking maintenance at the Rosyth facility in Scotland.

The 65,000t lead carrier of the Queen Elizabeth-class was floated in July 2014 and sailed from Rosyth Dockyard for the first time in June 2017.

HMS Queen Elizabeth underwent its maiden trials with the UK’s F35B Lightning II test fighter jets off the east coast of the US. The vessel is expected to be officially placed in service in 2020.

Babcock won the scheduled maintenance contract in January.

“Having completed this work, HMS Queen Elizabeth should not have to dry dock again for another six years.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth commanding officer captain Nick Cook-Priest said: “A lot of water has already passed under our keel since we left Rosyth in 2017.

“Our return here is yet another first for HMS Queen Elizabeth and another important step on her journey as Britain generates a big deck Carrier Strike capability.”

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Engineers have lowered the carrier’s pole mast to enable it to get under the three Forth bridges.

During the dry-docking period, the vessel will undergo an inspection on its 920ft-long hull. Any defects found during the inspection would be rectified and marine growth will be removed.

Marine Engineering onboard head commander Mark Hamilton said: “This routine maintenance will include changing many of the large underwater valves, inspecting the rudders, propellers, and stabilisers, as well as cleaning and touching up the underwater paint scheme.

“Having completed this work, HMS Queen Elizabeth should not have to dry dock again for another six years.”

After the completion of the docking period, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be underway to perform further sea trials and training.

Thereafter, the carrier will be deployed later this year for ‘WESTLANT 19’ to again undergo F35B flying trials. This phase will involve operational testing.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be ready for operational deployment for the first time in 2021.