Navy

Coronavirus: HMS Queen Elizabeth Personnel Test Positive For COVID-19

The aircraft carrier's departure from Portsmouth to continue training has been delayed.

HMS Queen Elizabeth's scheduled departure from Portsmouth has been delayed after personnel tested positive for coronavirus.

The aircraft carrier had originally been scheduled to leave the city's naval base this afternoon.

The Royal Navy says she will depart once the status of affected personnel has been confirmed, although Portsmouth Harbour's shipping movements lists the warship as leaving tomorrow (Tueaday) afternoon.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: "A small number of HMS Queen Elizabeth's personnel have tested positive for COVID during routine preparation for sailing.

"Those affected have been isolated and are working with the NHS Test and Trace system to ensure the virus does not spread further.

"The crew will continue to follow appropriate health guidelines and the HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart once their status has been confirmed."

In April, 800 sailors on board the Queen Elizabeth-class warship were tested for coronavirus while it was in Portsmouth.

Once cleared to do so, HMS Queen Elizabeth then left the city to conduct 70 days of sea and flight trials, returning to her home base in July "on the cusp of operations".

This month, the warship is set to join Exercise Joint Warrior off the west coast of Scotland, before continuing with further exercises.

She will be joined by F-35 fighter jets from RAF Marham's 617 Squadron, plus American Lightning aircraft, which landed in the UK last week.

It will be the most aircraft embarked on a Royal Navy aircraft carrier since HMS Hermes was in service.

An F-35B during carrier sea training on board HMS Queen Elizabeth earlier this year (Picture: Royal Navy).

Ten F-35Bs from the American Marine Fighter Attack (VMFA) Squadron 211 arrived at RAF Marham on Thursday.

The US Marine Corps personnel will work with 617 Squadron, joining HMS Queen Elizabeth for training and then Exercise Joint Warrior.

VMFA-211 Squadron crews will train in simulators at RAF Marham, before flying sorties with 617 Squadron to prepare to join the Queen Elizabeth-class warship.

Both the British and American F-35s will conduct carrier qualification training from the aircraft carrier, to get pilots ready for day and night operations, as well as weapons training.

The Lightning jets will then take part in Exercise Joint Warrior on Queen Elizabeth.

The project to build the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, has cost £6 billion.

They are the Royal Navy's first aircraft carriers to be built since HMS Ark Royal was scrapped in 2010.

Queen Elizabeth's maiden operational deployment is set to take place next year, with Prince of Wales set to begin operational duties a few years after.

Cover image: MOD.