HMS Queen Elizabeth is the joint largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy.
The £3.2bn aircraft carrier was described as being "on the cusp of operations" last year and formed a UK Carrier Strike Group for the first time in the North Sea in October as part of NATO's Exercise Joint Warrior.
Now, the Carrier Strike Group has been declared ready for operations ahead of its first operational deployment this year.
It is expected to reach Full Operating Capability by December 2023, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said.
The Key Numbers:
- The project to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales cost more than £6bn.
- The aircraft carrier weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots.
- Can carry up to 72 aircraft, with a maximum capacity of 36 F-35B fighter jets. It is more likely the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers will have up to 24 Lightning jets on board for operations, however.
- Its flight deck is 280m long and 70m wide – enough space for three football pitches.
- The ship is the second in the Royal Navy to be named Queen Elizabeth.
- The ship will have a crew of about 700, increasing to 1,600 when a full complement of F-35B jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.
- There are 364,000m of pipes inside the ship.
- Both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will keep 45 days' worth of food in their stores.
- The entire ship's company of 700 can be served a meal within 90 minutes – 45 minutes when at action station.
The History Of British Aircraft Carriers
The Royal Navy has seen 16 different classes of aircraft carriers take to the sea since 1918, with between one and 10 ships commissioned for each class.
The engines of previous carriers were powered by boilers and geared turbines.
The first class of aircraft carrier was HMS Argus. It was laid down in 1914, and finally commissioned in 1918, and could carry 18 aircraft.
The Glorious class could carry 36 to 48 aircraft. Glorious, Courageous, and Furious, were commissioned between 1916 and 1917.
British carriers did not take on the modern look, with a control tower protruding above the flight deck, until HMS Eagle was commissioned as the only ship in her class in 1924.
Two squadrons of Lightning aircraft embarked on the ship last year – the largest group of aircraft on a Royal Navy carrier since HMS Hermes was in service.