Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was joined by two frigates as she embarked on her maiden sea trials.
The frigates’ role is to secure the seas around the aircraft carrier as she conducts vital system tests off the coast of Scotland today.
HMS Queen Elizabeth left Rosyth, where she has been under construction since 2014, on Monday with 700 sailors and 200 industry contractors on board.
Type 23 frigates HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke have now joined the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, along with Merlin Mk2 helicopters of the Fleet Air Arm, to guard the seas as the trials get under way.
Commander Andrew Canale, the Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, said: “It is a huge honour for us all in HMS Sutherland to be the first ship to escort HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden sea voyage. This is a new chapter in the history of the Royal Navy in which our aircraft carriers will have the ability to project power globally for the next 50 years.
“Everyone in HMS Sutherland is proud to be involved in this historic occasion. For me and all my ship’s company, seeing her on the ocean waves for the first time is a sight we will never forget.”
The sea trials under way of the coast of Scotland are designed to test the carrier’s engines and propulsion systems, plus her ability to produce fresh water, cope with sewage, feed the crew, and supply those on board with electricity.
The carrier’s departure from Rosyth on Monday is one highlight of a national effort which has involved more than 10,000 people across the land – not least six shipyards – clocking up 51,000,000 man hours.