HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed for part 2 sea trials

In glorious sunshine, HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Portsmouth today to begin the second phase of her sea trials. She will be at sea off the coast of the UK for about a month while undertaking further testing. 

Nearly 11 weeks after her first arrival in Portsmouth on 16th August, HMS Queen Elizabeth is ready to begin part 2 sea trials which will mainly focus on mission systems, radars, communications, and electronics. In preparation for full-scale flying trials next year, the ship will also conduct air flow pattern tests, which demonstrate how air across the flight deck will affect aircraft taking off and landing.

Apart from a pair of additional flight deck information displays, there are few external clues to considerable engineering work that has been going on below decks in the last 3 months. Teams of Aircraft Carrier Alliance engineers, some brought in from Rosyth, together with Portsmouth-based staff have been at work fine-tuning the ship’s machinery and completing fitting out tasks. She has not yet been fitted with her Phalanx close-in weapon system or 30mm cannons, which will be added in 2018, along with equipment to support F-35 operations such as the Instrument Carrier Landing System (ICLS).

HMS Queen Elizabeth Hangar

Inside the 4,727 square metre hangar – capable of holding up to 23 F-35B jets.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance is confident that they are on target for the next major milestone when the ship will be accepted and handed over to the RN at the end of the year. The formal commissioning ceremony is scheduled for early December in the presence of HM the Queen. Fixed wing aircraft flying trials will be conducted towards the end of next year and RN should be able to declare Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for Carrier Strike by late 2020.

Fine weather for a fine ship – as seen from Fort Blockhouse, Gosport.

HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Solent

Having safely passed out of the harbour mouth at low tide (but slack water), HMS Queen Elizabeth is escorted into the Solent by dockyard tugs.