HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s largest warship, reached Florida’s Mayport naval station on Wednesday ahead of F-35 fighter jet trials later this month.
The news was posted on their official Twitter page as they reached the US coast. The purpose of the mission is to introduce the carrier to the F-35B fighters which will be its core firepower once fully operational.
Another Royal Navy ship joined the Queen Elizabeth in Florida, the Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth.
The Florida Times-Union’s military reporter, Joe Daraskevich, posted a video on Wednesday on his Twitter showing just HMS Queen Elizabeth (280m long) next to the slightly smaller USS Iwo Jima (257m):
Despite it being the biggest military ship in Mayport, HMS Queen Elizabeth is still topped by the largest US Navy carriers. USS Gerald R. Ford and USS George H.W. Bush are 337m and 332m long respectively.
Unlike its US counterparts, which have flat flight decks, HMS Queen Elizabeth has a “ski jump” ramp at one end, which will give the planes a little extra height when taking off.
Here’s a video of F-35s practicing on a ground-based replica of the ski jump:
The Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth, UK, for America on August 18, for the 11-week training trip. During the mission the Queen Elizabeth will host F-35s from the US Marine Corps.
Britain’s Royal Air Force has its own F-35s, the first of which arrived in the UK earlier this year and will eventually fly from the carrier.
Forces Network said HMS Queen Elizabeth stopped at Florida Mayport naval base to re-supply, before sailing the last stretch to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland.
No official date has been given for the first F-35B landing on the ship, but it is expected in late September, the UK Defence Journal wrote on Wednesday.
Local TV station WJXT News said the ship would be in Mayport for a couple of days before heading north to Maryland. That base is on the Chesapeake Bay – around 62 miles south of Washington, D.C.
Here’s the Twitter post from their arrival in Mayport:
As it was arriving the band played a rendition of the British national anthem “God Save the Queen.”
The deployment to the US is significant because it will mark the first fighter jet landing on a British aircraft carrier in eight years, since the decommissioning of HMS Ark Royal.
The F-35B jets will be flown from Naval Air Station Patuxent River by four pilots from the Integrated Test Force, a unit that includes British and American pilots.
In a statement, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s captain, Jerry Kyd, said: “Crossing a major ocean with 1.500 sailors, aircrew and Marines embarked and the anticipation of the first F-35B Lightning landing on the deck in September is very exciting for us all… this deployment demonstrates the astonishing collaborative effort that will enable the new F-35B jets to fly routinely from our Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.”