Crowds wave off HMS Queen Elizabeth

Crowds wave off Big Lizzie as Royal Navy’s flagship departs Portsmouth after two-day delay due to crew testing positive for coronavirus

  • The HMS Queen Elizabeth was to leave Portsmouth Naval Base on Monday afternoon for a training exercise
  • Departure was put on hold at last moment after ‘fewer than 10’ crew members tested positive for Covid-19 
  • The 10 sailors of the 1,000-strong crew were taken to shore and are currently isolating in their barracks  
  • Crowd of over 60 gathered on the Round Tower fortification in Old Portsmouth today to wave off the warship 

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has set sail from Portsmouth following two subsequent days of delays caused by ‘fewer than 10’ crew members testing positive for coronavirus.

Crowds lined the harbour walls in Old Portsmouth this afternoon to wave off the warship with more than 60 people packing the Round Tower – the traditional viewing point to see off Navy ships.

The carrier was scheduled to leave Portsmouth Naval Base on Monday afternoon for training exercises, but the departure was put on hold at the last moment.

It was expected to sail again on Tuesday, but this departure was also cancelled.

Merlin helicopters sit on the flight deck of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as she leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials earlier today

People wave from the Round Tower fortification in Old Portsmouth as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base earlier today

People wave from the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base earlier today 

A MoD spokesman confirmed that ‘fewer than 10’ members of the 1,000-strong crew had tested positive for coronavirus and had been taken ashore to be put into isolation in barracks.

Other sailors who had contact with their infected crew mates will isolate on board the 65,000 tonne ship.

On Wednesday, a person swimming across the main shipping lane at the harbour’s mouth was intercepted by a military police boat and ordered to swim to the shore.

The area is closed to all water traffic to enable the carrier to exit the narrow harbour safely.

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials earlier today 

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials earlier today 

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials earlier today 

The carrier had to postpone its sailing earlier this year after two crew members tested positive for Covid-19 in April.

The ship is set to carry out training exercises at sea before returning to base for supplies ahead of departing for major international exercises including the embarkation for the first time of both US and UK F35 Lightning jets. 

American aviators from the US Marine Corps arrived at RAF Marham last week to prepare for the role. 

Crew members stand outside one of the two islands on the flight deck as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials earlier today 

A man takes a photograph as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base as it sets sail for flight trials earlier today 

The Queen Elizabeth is due to deploy on her first operational mission early next year, which will see her travelling across the world.

It is aiming to declare strike carrier capability later this year ahead of its first operational deployment in 2021. 

Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, is expected to undertake its maiden operational deployment in 2023.

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