On August 16th 2017, having been brought forward from the 18th, at an estimated arrival time of 7:10am, the great, grey hulk of HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Portsmouth. You might have noticed the 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment being dredged up to deepen the harbour since 2015, including the many newspaper articles proclaiming the discovery of 36 anchors, eight cannons, five bombs and a skull.
“Many people in the area view the aircraft carrier as assurance of the Navy’s success in the future, as well as bringing more focus and money to Portsmouth itself.”
At 65,000 tonnes and costing 3 billion pounds, the aircraft carrier attracted the attention of ten thousands of people as they flocked to the docks to get a sight of Portsmouth’s latest claim to fame. Some of these ten thousand were on water in tug-boats and some even camped overnight on the Round Tower in the hopes of gaining the best and most traditional viewpoint of the ship entering the harbour. The event was also accompanied by a Royal Navy flypast, consisting of helicopters and jets.
Many people in the area view the aircraft carrier as assurance of the Navy’s success in the future, as well as bringing more focus and money to Portsmouth itself. The significance of the ship to Portsmouth can be seen in the number of people the Facebook Live broadcast reached, with 310, 518 people having access and the number of views at 87, 651.
Prime Minister Theresa May was at the event, which took place in the naval base, near the historic area of Old Portsmouth. Speaking at the arrival of the ship, May said that she hoped the ship would prove the “determination of Britain to remain a fully-engaged global power.” With the aircraft carrier being the biggest and newest ship in the Royal Navy’s itinerary.
The ship, according to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, will enable Britain to provide air power “anywhere, at any time,” and sustain the ability to meet an “increased threat,” whether this be through “fight[ing] future campaigns, supporting allies or delivering humanitarian aid.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth was built in the Rosyth dockyard in Fife, where it underwent sea trials before being brought to Portsmouth, its new home. The ship cannot carry planes at the moment, but 120 airmen are currently preparing in the US for air trials.
The arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth was an event that threw Portsmouth into the public eye amid the headlines of the national newspapers. HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales (who will start active service in 2020), will be on our waters for the next fifty years (as an estimated service time); it remains to be seen how this will affect Portsmouth as a Naval base, as well as Portsmouth as a town.