THE crowning jewel of the British fleet is today returning from its maiden voyage to the US.
Here, we examine everything there is to know about the UK’s most expensive ever warship – HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Who built HMS Queen Elizabeth and how much does it cost?
HMS Queen Elizabeth – nicknamed Big Lizzie – is the size of three football pitches and can carry 1,600 crew members and 36 fighter jets.
At 920ft long, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is longer than the Houses of Parliament.
Its length is also greater than the height of the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.
The huge warship’s construction, which began in 2004, is the most expensive in navy history costing £6billion together with sister ship HMS Prince of Wales.
It is the largest and most expensive ship that has ever been built for the Royal Navy, with a crew of 700 sailors and 200 industry contractors on board.
In August 2017, the colossal vessel was pictured during her sea trials off the coast of Scotland, alongside USS Donald Cook, USS Philippine Sea and the colossal American carrier USS George HW Bush.
It was built by an alliance between Babcock, Thales, BAE Systems and the Ministry of Defence.
HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH IN NUMBERS
- Top speed – 25 knots up
- Length – 920ft
- Weight – 65,000 tonnes
- Food on board – 45 days worth
- Pipes – more than one millon inside the ship
- Flight deck size – 230ft by 920ft – the equivalent of three football pitches
- Man power – 28 million hours spent designing and building the carrier
- Parts – 17 million
Where is HMS Queen Elizabeth now?
Royal Navy sailors return home to Portsmouth on December 10, 2018, after four months at sea.
During the maiden voyage, US fighter jets landed on board for the very first time.
A total of 1,500 sailors, aircrew and marines were on board as it carries out flight trials and stopped over in New York.
The £3billion warship also embarked on two US F-35B test aircrafts based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
They are believed to have carried out 500 landings and take-offs during the carrier’s time at sea.
The squadron’s Commanding Officer, Cdr Chris Knowles, said: “It’s been truly remarkable to be part of this historic first deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth as the Carriers dedicated Squadron we have been there from the very first landing off Scotland right up to the highlights we will all take home from this deployment.
Seeing the flight deck full of Merlins, F-35 jets and US visitors including V-22s has shown just what a potent capability we have.
“It’s fantastic to be getting home but we are already looking forward to next year taking our capability further again and delivering even more for HMS Queen Elizabeth.”
In 2017, the aircraft undertook handling and speed tests off the east coast of Scotland.
The Queen officially welcomed the UK’s new £3.1billion aircraft carrier into the Royal Navy fleet and declared it the “best of British” at Portsmouth Naval base on December 7, 2017.
The vessel also underwent sea trials with Chinook and Merlin helicopters in March 2018.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth will be declared as having a “full operational capability” in 2020.
The warship may have to go back into dry dock over concerns it is leaking.
A faulty seal around one of the propeller shafts means 200 litres of sea water pour in every hour.
The repairs are expected to run into the millions.
More on the Royal Navy
What is HMS Queen Elizabeth’s size compared to other aircraft carriers?
During her estimated 50-year working life, HMS Queen Elizabeth could be pressed into action for various work such as high-intensity war fighting or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief anywhere in the world.
Each aircraft carrier will provide the armed forces with a four-acre military operating base, which can be deployed worldwide.
When the ship has its full complement of 36 F-35B fighters and four helicopters on board the crew will increase to about 1,600.