HMS Queen Elizabeth Leaves Portsmouth Following Coronavirus Cases

HMS Queen Elizabeth has left Portsmouth after delays due to cases of coronavirus being found among its crew.

Members of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier’s personnel tested positive for COVID-19, which meant its originally scheduled departure on Monday afternoon was postponed.

The warship will continue with its training later this month, including working with British and American F-35B fighter jets.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said following the positive coronavirus diagnoses: "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."

Merlin helicopters on board HMS Queen Elizabeth as she leaves Portsmouth
The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth with helicopters on board (Picture: PA).

In April, 800 sailors on board the Queen Elizabeth-class warship were tested for COVID-19 while she was in Portsmouth.

Once cleared to leave the city's naval base, HMS Queen Elizabeth conducted 70 days of sea and flight trials, returning in July "on the cusp of operations".

The aircraft carrier will now spend a brief time at sea, before returning to Portsmouth for a "mounting period" and then sailing from the city again.

She will join Exercise Joint Warrior off the west coast of Scotland, before continuing with further exercises.

Queen Elizabeth will work with 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.

RAF Marham welcomed 10 F-35Bs from the American Marine Fighter Attack (VMFA) Squadron 211 last Thursday.

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

American F-35s arrived in the UK last week (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Crews from VMFA-211 Squadron will train in Marham’s simulators, before carrying out sorties with 617 Squadron as they prepare to join the aircraft carrier.

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

Ahead of sailing, the ship posted on Twitter that her supplies to feed the 1,500-strong crew during the forthcoming exercises included 90,000 potatoes, 43,000 carrots and 3,000 cucumbers.

She is aiming to declare strike carrier capability later this year ahead of her first operational deployment in 2021.

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