PICTURES: Aircraft Carrier Dredging Gives Up Portsmouth Harbour's Secrets...

Dredging work in Portsmouth Harbor to prepare the site for the arrival of the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has...

Dredging work in Portsmouth Harbour to prepare the site for the arrival of the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has been completed.

More than 20,000 items, ranging from shoes to sea mines, have been found during the dredging of the approach to the Harbour, many dating back several centuries. 

Here are some of the highlights...


The dredging was carried out in order to make room for the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier and her sister ship Prince of Wales.

Since then, specialist dredging vessels have been at work, removing 3,200,000 cubic metres of sediment - the equivalent to 12,800 Olympic swimming pools.

Military Aircraft Engine

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said:

"Upgrading the future home of HMS Queen Elizabeth is another completed step in the carrier's journey to becoming the nation's flagship, ready to operate around the world and help keep us safe in a world of intensifying threats."

The work to prepare for our naval future has unearthed objects from our naval past which are part of Portsmouth's proud maritime history. 

More than £100 million has been invested in Portsmouth's naval base to ensure that it is ready for the state of the art Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers."


The artifacts uncovered include eight cannons, an aircraft engine, 36 anchors and a human skull which was passed to the local police.

The team also retrieved an arsenal of old weapons, from bullets and cannonballs to a British torpedo.

Ganges Plaque

The Royal Navy’s ordinance disposal team even had to be called in in order to make safe a German sea mine, and five large bombs which were found.

Portsmouth now awaits the upcoming arrival of the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Pipe Fragments

Capt Iain Greenlees, Head of Infrastructure at Her Majesty's Naval Base Portsmouth, said:

"The dredging was the culmination of twelve years work monitoring the seabed environment around the harbour and unearthed a huge array of items, some of which may be historically significant, and underlines again Portsmouth's long maritime history.

"Completion of the dredge is the final critical step in a wide range of activities preparing for HMS Queen Elizabeth's arrival later this year and the base is now ready to support the nation's future flagship."

Canon balls