The lead ship of Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will miss the spring time frame set for its seagoing trials, UK’s minister for defence procurement acknowledged on Tuesday.
Speaking before Parliament’s Defence Select Committee, minister Harriet Baldwin said that she could not give an estimate on when exactly the carrier would set sail but it is likely that this will happen in the summer.
Construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth cost the UK over £3 billion and the ship is now late for the second time. Back in 2014, when the first seagoing Captain of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen was appointed, the Royal Navy said the carrier would start trials in 2016.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister-ship HMS Prince of Wales are the biggest ships the Royal Navy has ever built at 65,000 tonnes. The 280-meter STOVL (short take-off and vertical landing) ships will both be capable of carrying 36 F-35B Lightning II stealth jets.
In preparation for the arrival of the first carrier, the UK invested around £100m in Portsmouth Naval Base improving the jetties, dredging the main harbour channel, buying new tugs, fenders, sponsons, gangways, providing a high-voltage power supply, erecting navigational aids.