The British Royal Navy's first Queen Elizabeth (QE) Class aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has set sail for the first time, in order to begin six weeks of sea trials in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland.
HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Rosyth, where the vessel had been under construction since 2014, into the Forth estuary.
Commenting on the country’s future flagship, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “This floating fortress is by far the most powerful ship ever built in Britain that will enable us to tackle multiple and changing threats across the globe.”
The new 65,000t ship is set to test its engines and propulsion systems with a crew of more than 700 sailors and 200 industry contractors.
Its capability of producing fresh water, handling sewage, feeding the crew, and supplying electricity onboard will also be assessed during the trials.
Royal Navy first sea lord admiral Philip Jones said: “This is a hugely significant moment for the Royal Navy, for all our armed forces, and for our island nation.
“Once in service, Queen Elizabeth will be the largest aircraft carrier in the world outside the US.”
The 280m-long HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs roughly 65,000t and features a flight deck spanning around 4.5 acres, which will be used to carry the F-35B Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft and Crowsnest helicopters.
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sister carrier HMS Prince of Wales is currently in the outfitting phase.
The two QEC aircraft carriers are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, which is a partnership between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock, and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Image: The British Royal Navy’s future flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Photo: courtesy of Royal Navy / Crown Copyright.