The first seagoing Captain of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will be Commodore Jerry Kyd, the former Captain of HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious.
Cdre Kyd has a lot of command experience both at sea and ashore. As well as the two carriers he has commanded the Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth and more recently served for two years as the Captain of Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.
He will join HMS Queen Elizabeth following his appointment as Commander of the UK’s Response Force Task Group (RFTG). Held at very high readiness to respond to unexpected events worldwide, this maritime force of ships, submarines, aircraft and Royal Marines deploys annually.
Last November, during its deployment to the East of Suez, HMS Illustrious was diverted from the Task Group to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief in the Philippines.
Cdre Kyd was told personally of his appointment by the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas.
Commenting on his appointment Cdre Kyd said: “I am, of course, tremendously honoured to have been appointed as the first Commanding Officer of our new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth – and I am hugely proud to lead the bright young people who will help shape this capability to be at the heart of UK Defence for the next 50 years.”
“It is an exciting challenge and one that I am greatly looking forward to, and having spent many years of my sea-going life in carriers, I am in no doubt that in HMS Queen Elizabeth, UK shipbuilding has delivered an amazing advance in engineering and technology.
“She really cements us in the very top league of world class Navies and more importantly enhances our ability to defend our country and protect our nation’s interests around the world.
“By anyone’s yardstick this is an exciting new era for the Royal Navy, defence and the nation as we regenerate a fast jet carrier strike capability at sea; I am delighted to be part of this exciting journey.”
Cdre Kyd will join in summer 2015 as HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares for her seagoing trials, which are due to start in 2016.
From here a complex period will follow during which he will be responsible for ensuring the ship is ready for global carrier operations. Lightning II aircraft will join for sea trials from HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018.
The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas said: “I am delighted to announce that HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first captain will be Jerry Kyd.
“Jerry has jet carrier command background, decades of operational experience under his belt and is the right man to lead this iconic warship’s first ship’s company when he assumes command in mid 2015.
“Until then, Jerry will develop the key skills, international relationships and industrial partnerships to prepare for his command, marking another important milestone in our journey with the RAF to regenerate fast jet carrier capability as part of our nation’s war-fighting credibility.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth will see the return of fast jet carrier-borne operations to the Royal Navy. Working in close partnership with the RAF, one of the most important tasks will be to develop the skills of the ship’s company necessary to operate supersonic jets from the carrier.
A significant part of that preparation is the close working relationship established with the United States Navy and Marine Corps.
380 personnel from both the Royal Navy will be trained aboard US warships and in the French Carrier Strike Group as part of the Long Lead Skills Programme over the next 8 years.
Since the beginning of 2013, RN personnel have been serving with the assault ship USS Kearsarge and the aircraft carriers USS Dwight D Eisenhower, USS Harry S Truman and USS George W Bush.
“It is not just about developing the platform, there is also a careful set of plans in place where we have been taking the opportunity to use the US carriers to train our flight deck handlers in advance of joining the ship,” said Cdre Kyd.
“This will be the largest flight deck the Royal Navy has ever operated and we have to have those skills in place for when the HMS Queen Elizabeth becomes operational.
“It is about training our young people in advance with sustainable, professional skills that will carry them through their Service, not only with the new aircraft carrier but also the Royal Navy of the future.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth is a significant capability for defence which will provide four acres of sovereign territory to be used around the world in operations ranging from war-fighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. She will provide the UK government with a full spectrum of credible military options.
“While HMS Queen Elizabeth will be a hugely capable part of the Royal Navy’s fleet,” added Cdre Kyd, “she is also a very important defence asset and a lot of manpower on board will be drawn from all three services in particular the Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps.”
The 65,000 tonne carrier will be officially named by Her Majesty the Queen on 4 July at Rosyth dockyard in Fife.
She is the biggest and most complex warship ever built in the UK and her construction has sustained more than 10,000 jobs at more than 100 companies across the country.
Cdre Kyd was born in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire and spent his early years in Cheshire before joining the Royal Navy in 1985. He now lives in Hampshire and is married with four sons.
Press Release, February 28, 2014, 2014; Image: Royal Navy