UK aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth welcomes its first Commanding Officer

Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has welcomed its first Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd.

Captain Kyd, who will be responsible for leading the men and women who will operate the 65,000 tonne ship from her future base port, Portsmouth Naval Base, took command of his ship May 24.

In his first speech to his ship’s company, Captain Kyd said: “It is a singular honour to be taking command of you today, the crew of our future flagship.

“I am extremely proud to be leading you as the ship’s first Captain as we work together with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance to sail from Rosyth for sea trials early next year. Let us be proud in purpose and focused in our work as we look to the sea and our arrival in our home port of Portsmouth in about a year’s time.”

Although Captain Kyd remains a substantive Commodore, he will follow historical custom and routinely wear the rank of Captain Royal Navy in his role as Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

He takes over from Captain Simon Petitt who has been Senior Naval Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales as they generate through their build programmes.

On leaving the ship for the last time, Captain Petitt said: “It has been an extreme honour to be in charge of the first crew of the Navy’s future flagship and play a small part in shaping how the ship will operate.

“It is without doubt the pinnacle of my career. In particular watching a shell of a ship develop at pace and a ship’s company grow from 9 to 580 personnel, which I proudly hand over to Captain Kyd to take to sea.”

The carriers will provide over 4 acres of sovereign territory which can be deployed around the world, travelling at upwards of 500nm a day. Both ships are capable of carrying up to 36 F-35B Lightning II stealth jets, capable of landing vertically on the flight deck.

The fifth generation fighters will be operated by 809 Naval Air Squadron, ‘The Immortals’, first formed 75 years ago, and 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force known as ‘The Dambusters’ for their daring war time raid on the Ruhr Valley.

They will share the 280 metre long flight deck with helicopters from all three services.