EDITED HMS Queen Elizabeth Leaves Portsmouth For First Flight Trials In UK Waters CREDIT BFBS 240120
Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth Leaves Portsmouth After 800 Sailors Tested For Coronavirus

The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth on Wednesday evening for sea trials.

EDITED HMS Queen Elizabeth Leaves Portsmouth For First Flight Trials In UK Waters CREDIT BFBS 240120

The Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth has left Portsmouth for sea trials, after 800 sailors on board were given tests for coronavirus.

The aircraft carrier will undergo several weeks of training and assessment with the staff of Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), with the intention of a Carrier Strike Group being ready to deploy from the end of this year.

Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said on Twitter: "HMS Queen Elizabeth sails this evening not in response to COVID-19, nor to counter any immediate threat, but because we need our Armed Forces trained & ready for the uncertain world that waits beyond."

HMS Queen Elizabeth's departure was delayed in order for her crew to be tested for coronavirus.

The ship was due to sail from port next Tuesday for two months.

The original plan was for the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier to stay close to the south coast for two weeks, potentially at anchor, with nobody allowed to join the ship for the fortnight, with the aim of preventing crew members being infected with coronavirus.

Mr Heappey said that the crew will "adhere to social distancing as much as possible" during the deployment.

Earlier this month, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which has more than confirmed 900 cases of coronavirus, confirmed its first death from COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle, has also confirmed hundreds of cases of coronavirus on board.