Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, returned to the UK on Wednesday having spent three months in the USA conducting air trials with F-35 stealth fighter jets.
For the first time the Royal Navy’s two giant aircraft carriers have docked together, stern to bow, at their home base of Portsmouth.
The 65,000-tonne warship manoeuvred into place alongside her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, which arrived for the first time at Portsmouth last month and will shortly be commissioned by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Steve Moorhouse, said: “Homecomings are always a special occasion, but to be returning to Portsmouth, with HMS Prince of Wales welcoming us home makes this a particularly special occasion.
“Embarking UK F-35B Lightning for the first time and integrating them within the Carrier Strike Group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021.”
Captain James Blackmore, in charge of all jets and helicopters on both aircraft carriers, added: “The five-week period of Operational Tests with UK F-35Bs from the UK Lightning Force was significant and historic.
“As the last pilot to fly Harrier from the deck of HMS Ark Royal in 2010, it filled me with tremendous pride to see UK fixed wing aircraft operate once more from a British carrier.”