Royal Navy calls for a royal welcome for HMS Queen Elizabeth next year

Images: Royal Navy

Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, has called upon the civic and business leaders, schools, and naval veterans to make the debut of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth next year a historic event for the nation and the city.

Given the size of the ship – the largest ever built for the RN – and the UK’s investment in her, plus her sister HMS Prince of Wales and the F-35 jets which will fly from their decks, the Queen Elizabeth’s maiden entry into Portsmouth is likely to be an event of national significance.

Admiral George Zambellas addressed the guests at the annual Lord Mayor’s Dinner with a challenge: “Thirty-three years ago millions watched the wreck of Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose rise from the seabed.”

“My challenge to Portsmouth – and for the Royal Navy – is to put on an even greater show. Let’s make it a day to remember – let’s make sure that in 50 years’ time, people in Portsmouth still talk about the day they were given a day off school to see this 65,000-tonne giant arrive.”

In the final stages of completion at Rosyth, HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to go sea for contractor trials later this year. She’ll return to the Forth once those are done for a final period of fitting out, tweaks and testing by both the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and ship’s company.

Admiral Zambellas continued: “Thousands of people will flock to Southsea and Old Portsmouth to see her arrive. Millions more will watch on TV – and not just in the UK. Images of the ship – and the city – will be seen in Washington and Beijing, Delhi and Sydney. Portsmouth will have a ringside seat and a global audience for this historic day.”

Around £100m is being invested 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.

Beyond that the ship’s company – and their families – will pump money into the city’s economy, as will contractors, suppliers and civilian engineers who carry out work on the Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales when alongside.