Britain’s most advanced and biggest warship has set out on its maiden voyage.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, a 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, launched from the Rosyth dockyard in eastern Scotland.
The ship, which measures 280 metres and can move 500 miles a day, took 11 tugs to manoeuvre out into the River Forth and then must wait for low tide so as to pass under the Forth’s famous bridges – weather and systems checks permitting.
It took eight years to build HMS Queen Elizabeth and along with its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, it is part of a defence programme worth 6 billion pounds ($7.65 billion), with building and fitting spread over six different shipyards across Britain.
It will now spend around two years in sea trials.
HMS Queen Elizabeth was scheduled to be fully operational by 2020 but that date may now be as late as 2026, Britain’s National Audit Office said earlier this year, because of technical difficulties.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord, said: “This is a hugely significant moment for the Royal Navy.
“Once in service, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the largest aircraft carrier in the world outside the United States.”
- Largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy
- The flight deck is the size of three football pitches
- She can operate with a crew of 1,000 and 40 aircraft (36 planes and four helicopters)
- 15% of the crew members are female, compared with a navy average of about 9%
- The warship weighs 65,000 tonnes
- Cost £6bn along with a second carrier, the Prince of Wales
- Has twin propellers that produce enough power to run 1,000 cars or 50 high-speed trains
- Enough cabling onboard to reach from London to Gibraltar
- Top speed of over 25 knots
- 364,000 metres of pipes onboard