On Air

The Weekend Wind Down 6:00PM - 10:00PM

Now Playing

Eric Clapton Wonderful Tonight
You are viewing content from The Breeze Isle of Wight.
Would you like to make this your preferred location?

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns home to Portsmouth

HMS Queen Elizabeth and the bulk of her carrier strike group have returned home, after spending three months in the United States.

The aircraft carrier arrived to the welcoming masses and joined HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Dragon in being stationed in Portsmouth.

The latter sailed into the city earlier this week.

HMS Queen Elizabeth's arrival marked her first greeting with sister ship HMS Prince of Wales.

Two escorts of HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce returned to Devonport.

The carrier strike group set off from the UK in August to conduct operational tests with UK F-35 jets from the UK Lightning Force for the first time.

(HMS Queen Elizabeth returned to welcoming crowds, as it sailed into Portsmouth this morning. Picture credits: Royal Navy)

Merlin helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron, based out of RNAS Culdrose, supported the strike group by providing anti-submarine protection and search-and-rescue (SAR) capabilities.

Commando Merlins from 845 Naval Air Squadron transported equipment, provided SAR cover and also landed Royal Marines as part of exercises on rescuing downed pilots.

Merlins from 814 NAS and Wildcat from 815 completed the air group.

The Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Steve Moorhouse said:

“Homecomings are always a special occasion, but to be returning to Portsmouth with HMS Prince of Wales welcoming us home makes this a particularly special occasion.

“This has been an extremely successful deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth.

"Embarking UK F-35 Lightning jets for the first time and integrating them within the carrier strike group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021.”

Commander of the Air Group, Captain James Blackmore, added:

“The five-week period of operational tests with UK F-35s from the UK Lightning Force was significant and historic.

"As the last pilot to fly Harrier from the deck of HMS Ark Royal in 2010, it filled me with tremendous pride to see UK fixed wing aircraft operate once more from a British carrier.”

HMS Northumberland - also part of the strike group - returned to her Devonport base and encountered Hurricane Dorian, playing a vital role in the NATO Exercise Cutlass Fury, which involved 20 ships and 36 aircraft.

Commanding Officer of HMS Northumberland, Commander Ally Pollard said:

“It has been an exciting challenge for my ship’s company, some of whom have never been to sea or deployed, and while only a short deployment it has nevertheless been demanding.”

HMS Northumberland’s Deputy Marine Engineering Officer, Lt James Jeffcoate, added:

“Having served in HMS Monmouth for Westlant 18, it’s been fantastic to see the development of UK Carrier Strike.

"Seeing HMS Queen Elizabeth close up while HMS Northumberland escorted her has enabled us all to appreciate what an amazing piece of British engineering she really is.”

More from Local News