The Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier has been officially named by Her Majesty the Queen at a ceremony in Scotland on Friday. Hundreds of workers who have helped to build the HMS Queen Elizabeth, along with the ship’s company, joined the Prime Minister, Defence Secretary, military Chiefs and dignitaries to witness Her Majesty christen her namesake with a bottle of whisky.
The ceremony, held at Rosyth dockyard near Edinburgh, marks the completion of the flagship which is the largest ship built for the Royal Navy: With a height of 56 meters she is taller than Niagara falls; At 280 meters long she has a flight deck the size of 60 tennis courts; Four jumbo jets could fit alongside each other on the 70 meter wide deck;Her range is 10,000 nautical miles and she carries enough fuel to transport a family car to the moon and back twelve times; She is fitted with a long range 3D radar that is capable of tracking more than 1,000 targets at once or can spot a tennis ball travelling at 2,000 miles per hour.
Operating with Lightning II fifth generation stealth Joint Strike Fighter jets, the QE Class will be versatile enough to be used in a full range of military tasks from war-fighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. Today’s naming ceremony comes just a week before Lightning II is due to take to the skies in the UK for the first time, marking another step towards the return of carrier strike operations.
The construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth has sustained around 8,000 jobs at more than 100 companies across the UK. Blocks of the ship were manufactured at six yards in Devon, Rosyth, Portsmouth and on the Clyde and Tyne before being assembled in Rosyth.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first warship to be christened by Her Majesty in 15 years. To honour the ship’s birthplace in Scotland, a bottle of Islay whisky from the first distillery the Queen visited was smashed against the bow.
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said that “HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest ship that the Royal Navy has ever had and is a true demonstration of the UK at its best, with over 10,000 people across the country working together to deliver her.
“This occasion marks a major milestone in regenerating the UK’s aircraft carrier capability, enhancing our ability to project power anywhere in the world.”
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, First Sea Lord, also underlined the significance of the event saying that the the naming of HMS Queen Elizabeth heralds a new dawn, ”not only for the Royal Navy but for the delivery of our Nation’s security. Her journey ahead will be global, strategic and one of inter-Service and international partnership. Powerful, versatile and credible, this ship will be at the heart of the UK’s defence capability for the next 50 years, but she already stands testament to the best of British shipbuilding, engineering and technology.
“We are especially proud to welcome Her Majesty The Queen to Rosyth, and are honoured that she has graciously accepted the role of sponsor for our Nation’s future flagship.”
Following Friday's naming ceremony the dock will be flooded to enable HMS Queen Elizabeth to float for the first time. Work to prepare the ship for her sea trials in 2017 and flight trials with Lightning II aircraft in 2018 will continue.
Work is already underway on the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sister ship HMS Prince of Wales which will start to be assembled in Rosyth dockyard later this year.