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“Let’s put on a great show for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s arrival” – 1SL

18 February 2016
The Navy’s senior sailor wants the debut of HMS Queen Elizabeth in her home of Portsmouth next year to become an iconic moment seared into the city’s – and nation’s – memory akin to the raising of the Mary Rose nearly 35 years ago.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas has laid down the gauntlet to civic and business leaders, schools, and naval veterans to provide an unforgettable welcome for the 65,000-tonne carrier.

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 – and possibly international – significance.

“Thirty-three years ago millions watched the wreck of Henry VIII’s flagship Mary Rose rise from the seabed,” the admiral told guests at the annual Lord Mayor’s Dinner.

“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, and is due to provide an imposing backdrop at the naming ceremony for HMS Prince of Wales before she heads south to her future home.

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.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas

“Thousands of people will flock to Southsea and Old Portsmouth to see her arrive,” Admiral Zambellas continued.

“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.”

Cdre Kyd added: “The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth into Portsmouth for the first time will be both momentous and historic.

“As her commanding officer, it will be a very special day indeed and I am deeply privileged to be the first captain with the honour of bringing the great carrier into her home port for the very first time – I just hope the weather is good!”

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. And, when in port, the vessels are likely to prove tourist draws for the ever-popular harbour tours.

“The ships’ presence will be an enduring reminder of the deep and very special links between this great maritime city and the Royal Navy,” Cdre Kyd added.

“As a Portsmouth officer myself, I can hand-on-heart say that the support and friendship we receive from the people of Portsmouth is something the Navy very much treasures and I cannot think of a better home for the nation’s new flagships.”

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