There are very strong indications that the future flagship of the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be arriving in her home port of Portsmouth on the morning of Friday 18th August. This is not a certainty as the ship still has further trials to complete and other factors such as the weather could change the plan.
The Aircraft Carrier Alliance that constructed the ship had originally scheduled an approximately 11-week sea trials period, which began when she sailed for the first time on 26th June. Despite the issues with the propeller shafts that required 2 weeks alongside in Invergordon, other aspects of the trials are reportedly proceeding very well and ahead of schedule. Original estimates given out earlier this year had said she might arrive in the Autumn but better progress has been made than initially anticipated.
Harbour dredging operations and the construction of the Princess Royal Jetty where the Queen Elizbeth class carriers will berth in Portsmouth are all complete. Inshore survey craft, HMS Gleaner was recalled early from her planned work in Jersey and has been conducting a bathymetric survey of the harbour seabed and the Spithead anchorages. Her measurements will provide confidence that there is the adequate depth of water for a ship that has a draught of 11 m. Additional extra contractors have been brought in to Portsmouth Naval Base in the last few weeks to ensure shoreside facilities needed for the ship are ready, slightly earlier than had been expected.
Although nothing like as restricted as her departure from the basin at Rosyth, entry into the narrow mouth of Portsmouth harbour is also dependent on weather and tidal conditions. In the event of high winds, she may have to anchor in the Solent an await the right opportunity. High tide on the 18th of August is around 9.30am so expect the ship to pass the Round Tower at about that time.
When HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth it will be another landmark moment for the Royal Navy and its centrepiece aircraft carrier programme.
Portsmouth City Council and the Police have been considering arrangements for this event for some time as large crowds are expected. Official sources are understandably reluctant to commit to a specific date and want to manage expectations. They will only say she will arrive “in the next few weeks”. Final confirmation of her arrival time will probably only be given out at relatively short notice.
Please note, like all naval movements, this plan could easily change and is subject to operational, technical or weather considerations.
- Articles about HMS Queen Elizabeth (Save the Royal Navy)
- Excitement amid claims HMS Queen Elizabeth could arrive in less than four weeks (Portsmouth News)
- HMS Gleaner Bathymetric Survey Works (QHM Portsmouth)