UK: Royal Navy, City of London Affirm Bonds with New Aircraft Carrier
The Lord Mayor of London and the Senior Naval Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth yesterday (June 9) formally cemented the city’s relationship with the Navy’s new aircraft carrier.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy. Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes and under construction by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance in Rosyth, she dwarves all that she surveys.
The City of London has approved the new affiliation, which will begin in earnest when HMS Illustrious decommissions later this year, and this gift of the ship’s crest marks an official milestone in the relationship.
With 25 days to go until the naming ceremony of the carrier on July 4, the ship’s Senior Naval Officer Captain Simon Petitt travelled to the Guildhall to make the presentation.
Welcomed by Lord Mayor, Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, Captain Petitt said: “This is an historic moment in what will be a long, strong and deep relationship between this great ship and the City of London.
“The presentation of this crest plaque is a ceremonial affirmation of this nascent and already fond bond – hopefully it will endure in its place on the walls within these illustrious chambers for the lifetime of the affiliation; half a century or more.
“I am honoured to be able to present this crest and, as the ship’s Senior Naval Officer, along with the Lord Mayor, to reinforce the close ties between the ships of the Royal Navy and their affiliated cities.
I consider the relationship HMS Queen Elizabeth has with both Edinburgh and London as part of the wider family of the ship.”
Echoing Captain Petitt’s words, The Lord Mayor said: “The City of London and the Royal Navy have a long established bond so I am delighted to strengthen it even further today through the presentation of this HMS Queen Elizabeth crest plaque.
“We are extremely proud of the work that all our service men and women undertake on behalf of the country and cherish our affiliation with the Royal Navy.”
The Lord Mayor will also be joined for the occasion by the Remembrancer and the Chief Commoner.
Currently being built at shipyards around the United Kingdom but put together in Rosyth, HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales are the future flagships of the nation.
Once the ships are built and tested, the complex task of starting to fly aircraft from their decks will begin, with the First of Class Trials for the Jets occurring in 2018.
This will be an historic moment and mark the Royal Navy’s return to ‘Big Deck’ carrier strike operations.
However, it is not just about the Lightning II Jet, the vast flight deck and hangar can accommodate any helicopter in Britain’s military inventory and trials for the Merlin Mk2 helicopter will also occur in 2017.
Both ships are being constructed in numerous shipyards in one of the most demanding and revolutionary shipbuilding programmes ever undertaken, with the pieces being slotted together in a specially-extended dry dock at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth to create the two 65,000 tonne leviathans.
The Queen Elizabeth Class will be operated by the Royal Navy, but as a strategic asset, many hundreds of soldiers and airmen will join the ship’s sailors in operations over her 50 year life.
She will provide four acres of UK sovereign territory which can be deployed around the world, travelling at around 500 nautical miles a day.
Both ships will be versatile enough to be used for operations ranging from leading task force operations and supporting the very highest of intensity warfighting to providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief. She is about using the air to influence the land from the sea.
Press Release, June 10, 2014; Image: Royal Navy