Hampshire & Isle of Wight

HMS Queen Elizabeth: Portsmouth arrival date confirmed

HMS Queen Elizabeth Image copyright Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Image caption The 65,000-tonne ship set sail from Rosyth dockyard in June

The UK's new £3bn aircraft carrier will arrive in its home port on Wednesday, the Royal Navy has confirmed.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to sail into Portsmouth at about 07:10 BST following extensive preparations at the naval base.

Weather conditions meant the exact date could not be confirmed until Monday.

The 65,000-tonne ship has been undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Rosyth dockyard in Fife, where it was built, in June.

The 900ft (280m) long carrier cannot currently deploy planes but flying trials are due to begin next year, with 10 F-35 Lightning II jets and 120 aircrew preparing for the task in the US.

It is expected to be the Navy's flagship for the next 50 years.

Preparations for the arrival of the future flagship of the fleet, and its 700 staff, saw more than 20,000 items ranging from a human skull to sea mines dredged up from Portsmouth Harbour.

The Ministry of Defence said specialist dredging vessels had removed 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment - the equivalent to 1,280 Olympic swimming pools - during the dredging operation carried out to deepen the harbour mouth to enable the Queen Elizabeth to reach Portsmouth naval base.

In a statement earlier this month, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon heralded the ship's impending arrival, and declared it would be deployed "across the seven seas, using her strike power to deter our enemies".

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