HMS Queen Elizabeth sailors brave the icy waters in Oslo
HMS Queen Elizabeth sailors brave the icy waters in Oslo (Picture: HMS Queen Elizabeth).

Too cold for Hands To Bathe as HMS Queen Elizabeth finishes Oslo visit

HMS Queen Elizabeth sailors brave the icy waters in Oslo
HMS Queen Elizabeth sailors brave the icy waters in Oslo (Picture: HMS Queen Elizabeth).

Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth only spent a handful of days in Norway's capital Olso but the crew had time to enjoy the Scandinavian scenery, bask in the festive atmosphere and even go for a swim.

The sailors enjoyed an afternoon of cold water therapy, jumping in the sauna in between chilly dips in the sea.

However, at this time of year in Scandinavia it was too cold for Hands To Bathe, a Navy tradition that sees sailors dive into the open water straight from their ship. 

Even if the sailors were brave enough to face the icy fjords, Hands To Bathe would not have been possible in the harbour where HMS Queen Elizabeth berthed due to the risk of swimming in close proximity to the movements of other ships. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth was launched in 2014, but it was her first time visiting the Norwegian capital, where she arrived after F-35B flying operations in the North Sea.

To get to Oslo, the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier had to navigate through one of the narrowest harbour entries in her lifetime so far.

Watch: HMS Queen Elizabeth sails through fjords into Oslo.

The warship, which is 70m (230ft) wide, had to undertake a 60-mile journey through Oslo's fjords, which meant manoeuvring for 11 miles through the 1,000m-wide Drøbak Sound.

Once HMS Queen Elizabeth made it to the other side of its narrowest harbour entries so far, she was covered in snow and ice and a break was very much deserved.

HMS Queen Elizabeth berthed near the historic Akerbus fortress, close to the heart of the city where the ship's crew has been taking in the "festive cheer" of the Norwegian capital, according to a post from the ship's Twitter account.

An image posted on social media showed a number of the ship's company who spent an afternoon at a cold therapy centre, dipping in and out of cold water in between spells in the sauna.

The team on board Queen Elizabeth confirmed that there was no Hands To Bathe – the Norwegian water was a little too cold. 

The tweet paid credence to the "welcoming people" in Oslo, one of which was Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre who came aboard and was presented with a British flag.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was in Norway on a three-day stopover, having left Portsmouth earlier this month on Operation Achillean as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force – a 10-nation military alliance committed to maintaining the security of northern Europe.

The ship has now left the Norwegian capital, tweeting on Thursday afternoon: "Goodbye Oslo! Thanks for having us – it was a real pleasure to visit."

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