New car­rier com­mis­sioned

The Citizen (KZN) - - NEWS - Lon­don

– Queen El­iz­a­beth II, pic­tured, for­mally com­mis­sioned into the Royal Navy the UK’s new­est and big­gest air­craft car­rier, HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth, at a cer­e­mony yes­ter­day.

The war­ship, which cost £3 bil­lion (about R54 bil­lion) to build, was hailed as “a true flag­ship for the 21st cen­tury”.

“HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth em­bod­ies the best of Bri­tish tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion,” the queen said at the cer­e­mony on board the ship in Portsmouth on Eng­land’s south coast.

“She will in the years and decades ahead rep­re­sent the coun­try’s re­solve on the global stage,” she said.

The mighty ship can op­er­ate with a crew of 1 000 and 40 air­craft on deck, and mea­sures 280 me­tres in length and weighs 65 000 tons.

Bri­tain has been with­out any air­craft car­rier strike ca­pa­bil­ity since the gov­ern­ment scrapped pre­vi­ous ves­sels in 2010 as part of aus­ter­ity mea­sures to curb a huge deficit.

The queen named the ship in 2014, smash­ing a bot­tle of whisky on its side, but it is not ex­pected to be fully op­er­a­tional for another four years.

The project had been dogged by ques­tions about the US-built F-35 jets, due to be de­ployed on the air­craft car­rier, and about the need for mam­moth air­craft car­ri­ers when Bri­tain’s mil­i­tary role in the world has di­min­ished.

The F-35 stealth fighter, which is be­ing built by the US in con­junc­tion with Bri­tain and other coun­tries, has been heav­ily crit­i­cised for its high price tag and a se­ries of de­lays over air safety con­cerns. – AFP

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