Portsmouth is now home to two aircraft carriers for the first time in a long time.
HMS Northumberland and RFA Tideforce also returned to warm welcomes in Devonport, say the Royal Navy. The ships’ flights made their way to their respective homes at RNAS Culdrose and Yeovilton.
It’s been a busy three months away for the Portsmouth-based HMS Queen Elizabeth which hosted British F-35 Lightning jets for the first time at sea as part of the WESTLANT19 deployment. Her sister, HMS Prince of Wales, is expected to be formally commissioned into the Royal Navy in the coming days.
Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth Commodore 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. Two of her escorts, frigate HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce, returned to Devonport today.”
The ships flights also made their way to their respective homes at RNAS Culdrose and Yeovilton.
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.”
The Queen Mary 2 met the British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth during the carrier’s first visit to the U.S. on Thursday.
The rendezvous between these vessels celebrated the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom and their committed alliance, Cunard Line said, in a prepared statement.
“Luxury cruise line Cunard is a company known for its rich history and significant role in both World Wars. Having deep roots in both England and the U.S., it’s an honor for the brand to welcome the Royal Navy carrier to its U.S. homeport of Brooklyn, New York. Cunard launched the first royal mail service route across the Atlantic in 1840, connecting people between North America and the United Kingdom,” said Josh Leibowitz, SVP Cunard North America. “We continue to sail regularly-scheduled Crossings between the two countries, which makes meeting the Royal Navy on this side of the pond a particularly significant occasion.”
After saluting the aircraft carrier, Queen Mary 2 sailed out to sea to begin a seven-night trans-Atlantic Crossing to England. The HMS Queen Elizabeth spent the preceding weeks conducting its first trials with the F-35B Lightning II fighter jets onboard and when she departs New York, the 65,000-ton ship will head down the East Coast and conduct the second phase of developmental trials.