UK & World News

  • 4 July 2014, 22:27

Queen Names UK's Newest And Biggest Warship

The Queen has named the UK's new aircraft carrier, marking a major milestone in the history of the Royal Navy.

At 65,000 tons, HMS Queen Elizabeth is the biggest and most powerful warship ever built in the UK.

The naming ceremony, in Scotland, was attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prime Minister, the Opposition leader, the leader of the SNP and heads of military.

About 3,500 people involved in the design and building of the carrier also watched the celebrations.

Before naming the ship the Queen said: "Lord Mountbatten told my father on becoming king that 'there's no more fitting preparation to be king than to be trained in the Royal Navy'.

"My own personal associations ... remind me that that reputation for excellence continues to this day.

"In sponsoring this new aircraft carrier I believe that Queen Elizabeth, as flagship for the Royal Navy, will be a source of inspiration and pride for us all."

The Queen then smashed a bottle of Islay malt whisky, rather than the traditional champagne, on the ship's hull, reflecting the role Scotland has played in its construction.

Earlier, Aircraft Carrier Alliance managing director Ian Booth, who oversaw the construction of the ship, said: "This is a historic occasion for our country and a proud moment for more than 10,000 people across the UK who have worked together to deliver HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest ship that the Royal Navy has ever had and is a true demonstration of the UK at its best.

Eventually, F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter planes will fly off the carrier, although the Government is yet to announce the order of the first tranche of planes.

Confirmation of that order is expected within weeks.

The F-35 is the world's first fifth-generation fighter jet. The 'B' variant ordered by the UK Government can land vertically and take off on a short runway like its predecessor, the Harrier jump jet.

But it means that, for its first two years of service, HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail with only helicopters onboard.

A decision on the future of a second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has been delayed until 2016, although the Government is expected to keep it as part of the fleet rather than sell it off.

Together, the two carriers will cost 6.2bn to build.

Later this month, the new carrier will be floated for the first time before she embarks on sea trials for a few years and finally enters service.

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