Sea vessels

HMS Queen Elizabeth: Carrier Returns To Portsmouth

The aircraft carrier has been off the east coast of the United States for the past few months, undergoing tests during Westlant 19.

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has returned to Portsmouth after several months working overseas.

The warship has been off the east coast of the United States undergoing maiden flight trials with British F-35B aircraft.

As the crew arrived home to HMNB Portsmouth, crowds of families gathered to welcome back their loved ones.

Upon her arrival, the aircraft carrier was greeted by fellow Queen Elizabeth-class ship, HMS Prince of Wales, marking the first time the pair have been side-by-side.

Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, said: "Homecomings are always a special occasion, but to be returning to Portsmouth, with HMS Prince of Wales welcoming us home makes this a particularly special occasion."

First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, wrote on Twitter that he was "immensely proud" to see the two aircraft carriers moored in Portsmouth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales side by side for the first time 041219 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside HMS Prince of Wales for the first time (Picture: Royal Navy).

HMS Queen Elizabeth's air defence vessel, HMS Dragon, returned from her escort duties on Monday, while frigate HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce have both returned to Devonport.

The ship's flights also headed to their respective homes at RNAS Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton.

Captain James Blackmore, commander of the air group for the UK carrier strike group, said: "The five-week period of operational tests with UK F-35Bs from the UK Lightning force was significant and historic.

"As the last pilot to fly Harrier from the deck of HMS Ark Royal in 2010, it filled me with tremendous pride to see UK fixed-wing aircraft operate once more from a British carrier."

Major upgrade work has been carried out on the jetties at Portsmouth so that the two giant ships can berth next to each other.

Twins Luke and Kurtis Williams after finishing deployment with HMS Queen ELizabeth 041219 CREDIT BFBS
The Williams twins pose after finishing their deployment.

During their 50-year service, the two 280m long aircraft carriers can be pressed into action for various work such as high-intensity warfighting or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

Identical twins Luke and Kurtis Williams, 29, who both serve as leading airmen on board HMS Queen Elizabeth were welcomed by their family as they arrived in their home city.

Kurtis, 29, joked that having a twin on board had its perks as they could pretend to be each other, adding: "He does the duties so I've got perks as I don't have to do as many."

Luke said: "Everyone seems to know us. They think we go around the galley twice."

The £3.1 billion carrier is expected to deploy on operations for the first time in 2021.