Sunday Mail (UK) - - The Judge -

Built at a cost of £ 3.1bil­lion and mea­sur­ing 920ft long, 240ft wide and weigh­ing 65,000 tons, the HMS Queen Elizabeth is also the most ad­vanced craft ever con­structed.

Many chal­lenges await in her mil­i­tary life­time – but the first was just get­ting out of Rosyth Dock­yard and scrap­ing un­der the Forth bridges.

Film­maker Chris Ter­rill was on board as the su­per war­ship inched into the Firth of Forth in June last year, with ev­ery­one on board breath­ing in, duck­ing down and with their hearts in their mouth.

The dock­yard’s sea gate al­lowed only 30 cen­time­tres clear­ance on ei­ther side for the ship to pass and, un­der the com­mand of Cap­tain Jerry Kyd and his 700 sailors, she had to have her tow­er­ing pole mast spe­cially low­ered to let her pass safely un­der the bridges.

He said: “Get­ting out into the open sea, we had to go through that tiny lit­tle sea gate with 30 cen­time­tres clear­ance and I don’t think there was sailor on board who wasn’t breath­ing in. It was ex­traor­di­nary. Thank God we had the best tug masters in the busi­ness pulling and push­ing.

“All the math­e­mat­i­cal cal­cu­la­tions had been done to en­sure we had clear­ance to get un­der the Forth rail and road bridges with the port mast down but even so, I think we all ducked go­ing un­der the bridges be­cause the tides and cur­rents come along and maybe there is go­ing to be a some sort of freak wave that is go­ing to push us up.

“It wouldn’t be a good start to take out the Forth Rail Bridge. Peo­ple were pretty conf ident but you can never be to­tally con­fi­dent un­til af­ter the event.”

Things did go as planned and Chris, who has also made The Cruise, Com­mando: On the Front Line and War Torn War­riors, was on board to doc­u­ment it for new three-part BBC se­ries, Bri­tain’s Big­gest War­ship.

Em­bed­ded within the ship’s com­pany of 700 sai lors, the award- win­ning film­maker was given un­prece­dented ac­cess for the se­ries, which was three years in the mak­ing and be­gins in Fife, at Rosyth.

The scale of the ves­sel and the task of get­ting around it amid con­struc­tion is summed up by one sailor, who de­scribes it as be­ing like Harry Pot­ter’s school Hog­warts with its mov­ing stair­cases. For Chris, it was more akin to Star Trek. He said: “When you first see her in the flesh, you can hardly be­lieve what you are look­ing at. It’s like the Star­ship En­ter­prise. Even more stag­ger­ing is when you go on board for the first time. When I went on, she was still pretty much a build­ing site inside. Five kilo­me­tres of pas­sage­ways, 3300 com­part­ments, just try find­ing your way around that with­out a map. That was a huge chal­lenge for ev­ery­body but par­tic­u­larly for me.

“I had to get to know her bet­ter than most be­cause I work alone. It is just me and my cam­era so I had to find my way around this gar­gan­tuan ship, which was no small task.

“I of­ten got lost and thought they were gong to have to send out a search party to f ind this wan­der­ing itin­er­ant cam­era­man but short of leav­ing a trail of bread­crumbs, there is no other way.

“The only way is to get on and get lost un­til the mem­ory kicks in. Af­ter two

VES­SEL DO NICELEY HMS Queen Elizabeth PIC BBC/ Up­per­cut Films/Chris Ter­rill GO FORTH It was a tight squeeze but the HMS Queen Elizabeth just makes it un­der the bridges ABOARD Petty of­fi­cer Emma Ran­son TAST

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