HMS Queen Elizabeth: Carrier arrives in Portsmouth

The UK’s new £3bn aircraft carrier has docked in its home port.

HMS Queen Elizabeth entered Portsmouth Harbour for the first time at about 07:10 BST following extensive preparations at the naval base.

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.

Live: New aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in home port

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Spectators gathered on the shoreline to watch the ship’s arrival and a no-fly zone has been put in place to prevent the flying of drones around the harbour.

Road closures are in place in Old Portsmouth, Southsea seafront and parts of the city centre.

Isle of Wight, Gosport and cross-channel ferry services also have altered timetables.

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

 The Ministry of Defence said specialist dredging vessels had removed 3.2m 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.

Speaking on board before the journey in to Portsmouth, Capt Jerry Kyd said he felt a “huge amount of pride” ahead of the vessel berthing in its home port.

“It sends the right signals to our allies and indeed potentially to our enemies that we mean business.

“The armed forces are fundamentally an insurance policy for the country and you can’t just, at the flick of a switch, decide that you need these capabilities.”

The ship has been undergoing sea trials off the Scottish coast and sailed with the USS George HW Bush and her carrier strike group, during Exercise Saxon Warrior earlier this month.

F-35B Lightning fighter jets are due to make their first trial flights from the carrier’s deck next year with 120 aircrew currently training in the US.

HMS Queen Elizabeth

Analysis: Jonathan Beale BBC News correspondent

HMS Queen Elizabeth is still far from being a fully functioning aircraft carrier. But she now looks and feels less of a giant construction project and more like a warship. For the last seven weeks she’s been undergoing sea trials.

They’ve tested everything from the propulsion system to the sewage processing plant. The ships five galleys have been churning out more than 3,000 meals a day for the 700 crew and additional contractors on board.

According to the Captain, Jerry Kyd the tests have gone “really well” for what he admits is a “prototype”. But even he suggests that they’ll need more manpower when she’s fully operational. The slightly larger US Nimitz class carriers have a crew of more than 4,000.

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first deployment is still a long way off. Though helicopters have been landing on her massive deck- the size of three football pitches – it will be another year before the new F35s will begin flight trials. And HMS Queen Elizabeth won’t be fully operational until 2023.

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