Portsmouth welcomes HMS Queen Elizabeth home

The multi-billion pound aircraft carrier has arrived at her home port this morning.

HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed into Portsmouth just after 7am with around hundred thousand people there to welcome her home.

Portsmouth welcomes HMS Queen Elizabeth home

The £3 billion behemoth is set to be the nation's future flagship, and her 700-strong company plus 200 contractors are poised to enter Portsmouth Naval Base on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister hailed the ship as a symbol of the UK as a "great global maritime nation".

Speaking on board, Theresa May said: "Britain can be proud of this ship and what it represents.

"It sends a clear signal that as Britain forges a new, positive, confident role on the world stage in the years ahead we are determined to remain a fully engaged global power, working closely with our friends and allies around the world."

As the vessel sailed in the English Channel, Captain Jerry Kyd said he is feeling a "huge amount of pride" ahead of the vessel berthing in her home port. 

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Quizzed on whether he thinks aircraft carriers such as HMS Queen Elizabeth put the UK in the Naval premier league, he told the Press Association:

"It sends the right signals to our allies and indeed potentially to our enemies that we mean business.

"The armed forces are fundamentally an insurance policy for the country and you can't just, at the flick of a switch, decide that you need these capabilities.

"You have to buy them, work them up, train them, integrate them with the rest of defence so they're ready to be called upon when required. You can't just buy it off the shelf.

"Yes, it costs money, but it is all about having the right investment and having the right equipment for the hundreds, if not thousands of young men and women that go to war on behalf of the nation.

"It is absolutely an obligation of the taxpayer to ensure we have the right equipment."

Portsmouth has been busy getting ready, with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) investing £100 million to make the Naval Base home of the new carriers: 

  • The £276m Princess Royal Jetty has been rebuilt to make it a suitable home for the carrier
  • A frequency converter was installed to convert the electrical frequency to the carriers' requirements (60 Hz to 50 Hz)
  • New navigation lights have been installed to ensure the carriers can be brought safely into Portsmouth
  • Two catamarans have been installed to keep HMS Queen Elizabeth from clashing with the jetty, and they will move up and down with the tide
  • The approach channel, inner harbour area and berth have been dredged to make them deep and wide enough
  • Bespoke giant fenders and gangways have also been specially created
  • The SD Tempest was commissioned just for the carrier - her giant size requiring an extra powerful tug.

All this work has also secured the base's future, according to Councillor Donna Jones;

"Portsmouth Naval base is now secure for the next 50 years because she is guaranteed to the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales, two of the largest ships the government has ever built."

On Wednesday, Portsmouth - which is the home of the Royal Navy - has also become the home of the carrier.

Tide and weather have dictated the ship's arrival, but the city is ready to give a rapturous reception.

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