Her Majesty the Queen has officially named the UK’s newest aircraft carrier today at Rosyth, near Edinburgh, in a spectacular ceremony celebrating British naval capability.
Recognising the strategic importance of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Defence and First Sea Lord joined the celebrations, along with allies from around the world and more than 3,500 people involved in the design and construction of the largest warship ever built in the UK.
The event marked the first time in more than 15 years that the Queen has christened a Royal Navy warship and in time honoured tradition, Her Majesty gave her blessing as a bottle of finest Scotch whisky shattered against her hull.
Ian Booth - Managing Director, Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said: “This is a historic occasion for our country and a proud moment for more than 10,000 people across the UK who have worked together to deliver HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.
“This is an engineering challenge of unprecedented scale and complexity for UK shipbuilding and I want to congratulate everyone involved in making today possible. This ship truly reflects the very best of British design and ingenuity and we all feel an enormous honour to see Her Majesty name her today.”
During the hour long ceremony, the first members of the ship’s company lined the flight deck of the future flagship standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women who have played a role in her design and construction. Plumes of red, white and blue filled the sky over the Forth estuary, as the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows joined the celebrations in a dramatic fly past. An airborne procession showcasing the Royal Navy’s past and present air capabilities followed. This included several Sea Hawks and present day Merlin, Lynx Wildcat, Chinook and Sea King.
Thousands more people involved in the design and construction of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers joined in the celebrations at 15 sites across the UK. From Bristol, Appledore and Portsmouth to Derby, Tyneside and Glasgow, local politicians, school children, veterans and Royal Navy personnel joined employees to watch events relayed live on giant screens.
As the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier programme has involved every region of the UK, landmarks across the country are lighting up Royal blue to join the celebrations in recognition of their city’s involvement in creating this magnificent ship, including Edinburgh Castle and the Spinnaker Tower in her future home port of Portsmouth.
The naming ceremony for HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH marks the structural completion of the 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier. She will be floated out of the dock later this month and berthed in the basin, where teams will continue to outfit the ship and steadily bring her systems to life in preparation for sea trials in 2016. Meanwhile, teams across the UK are continuing the construction of her sister ship HMS PRINCE OF WALES. The bow section has already arrived at Rosyth and the first major hull section will be delivered from Glasgow at the end of July. Final assembly of HMS PRINCE OF WALES will begin in September in the dock vacated by HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH.
The aircraft carriers HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES are being delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a unique partnering relationship between BAE Systems, Thales UK, Babcock and the Ministry of Defence.
The Queen Elizabeth Class will be the centrepiece of Britain’s defence capability for the 21st century. Each 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier will provide the armed forces with a four-acre military operating base, which can travel up to 500 miles per day to be deployed anywhere around the world. Operating the Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II jets and a number of types of helicopter, the QE Class will be versatile enough to be used across the full spectrum of military activity from warfighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
Source: BAE Systems PLC (LSE: BAES.L)
Date: Jul 4, 2014