Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Largest Navy warship now has crew

Royal Navy Leading Hand Claire Butler, the first crew member to board new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

The largest warship built for the Royal Navy now has its first crew members - around eight years before it is fully operational.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of two 65,000-tonne ships under construction for the Navy, is being assembled in Rosyth, Fife.

Leading Hand Claire Butler, 29, from Middlesbrough, is the first member of crew to join the ship, which is not expected to be ready to deploy until 2020. She is one of eight staff selected as the first ship's company to board during the assembly process.

Rear Admiral Steve Brunton presented Ms Butler with the first "cap tally" band for her hat with the carrier's name on it.

She said: "Becoming the first member of the Royal Navy to wear this cap tally is a fantastic honour. My main task will be to set up the routines and procedures that will allow the rest of the crew to do their jobs. We are all well trained and, as a team, will make sure this warship becomes operational and helps to safeguard the world's oceans."

Six shipyards around the UK are involved in building various parts of the ship, which are ultimately being assembled in Fife.

Around 10,000 people have worked on the construction at various stages.

Bosses believe the ship, which will have 1,600 crew members when fully operational, will head to Portsmouth in 2017, with flying trials beginning in 2018 and deployment possible two years later.

Captain Simon Petitt said the arrival of the first crew will help to bring the ship to life, and means it can be up and running as soon as possible.

Speaking at the site, he said: "Today is the first day that the ship's company arrives in the dockyard to start to breathe life into the ship. You can see a fantastic ship being built, but it's people that matter."

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