HMS Queen Elizabeth takes to the seas

One of the biggest and most expensive defence projects in British history, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will take to the sea for the first time soon.

To reach the open sea, Captain Jerry Kyd will have to conduct two elaborate manoeuvres, firstly to take it from the Rosyth dockyard basin and then under the three Forth bridges.

Work began on the £3.5 billion carrier in 2009, raising doubts over whether the Royal Navy can afford enough fighters for it.

After roughly six weeks of sea trials in the North Sea, the carrier is to return to Rosyth for adjustments before sailing to its homeport, Portsmouth. The first of the planes is scheduled to arrive in 2018 and the carrier is scheduled to be operational in 2020.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: "This is a historic moment for the UK as our new aircraft carrier takes to sea for the very first time. This floating fortress is by far the most powerful ship ever built in Britain that will enable us to tackle multiple and changing threats across the globe.

"HMS Queen Elizabeth is an enduring example of British imagination, ingenuity, invention that will help keep us safe for decades to come. She is built by the best, crewed by the best and will deliver for Britain. For the next fifty years she will deploy around the world, demonstrating British power and our commitment to confronting the emerging challenges from a dangerous world. The whole country can be proud of this national achievement."

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