THE FIRTH of Clyde was witness to the striking sight of the Nation’s flagship earlier today (March 14) as Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth visited for the second time since her launch in July 2014.
The giant, 65,000 tonne carrier was last seen on the Clyde in March last year when she sailed to Loch Long to be loaded with ammunition ahead of her successful deployment with the Carrier Strike Group.
She returned to the serene waters of the loch today, berthing once again at Glen Mallan ammunitioning jetty which completed a £67M upgrade to accommodate the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth Carriers last year.
Captain Ian Feasey RN, Captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth, said: “It is fantastic for the Fleet Flagship to be back in this spectacular region to make use of this upgraded facility supporting our role as the United Kingdom’s Strike Carrier.
“The ship’s drumbeat of visits here over the coming years will punctuate the strong affiliation that we have with Scotland.”
Construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth began in 2009 with six shipyards around the UK involved in building different sections of the ship which were then transported to Rosyth dockyard where they were assembled.
Her Royal Majesty the Queen officially named the carrier on July 4, 2014, with the vessel leaving the dry dock a few days later on July 17.
A series of successful sea tests and sea trials followed to get HMS Queen Elizabeth to where she is now – one of the most capable and advanced aircraft carriers in the world.
The largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy, HMS Queen Elizabeth was at the centre of the Carrier Strike Group deployment in 2021.
Supported by eight other ships, a submarine, five air squadrons and some 3,700 personnel, the seven-month long deployment saw the ship visit more than 40 countries.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is visiting Glen Mallan as part of a routine logistics visit, after returning to sea as the UK’s Very High Readiness Strike Carrier.
The ship is using the transit from her home at Portsmouth and follow-on program to test newly refurbished equipment and to continue to train as a team.
Part of that team is Leading Engineering Technician (Mechanical Engineer) (LET (ME)) Cook, who is continuing an Accelerated Apprenticeship with the ship.
He said: “The ship has brilliant facilities and is so modern; it’s a great place to put theory into practice. While we are alongside at Glen Mallan this gives us a great opportunity to get into the hills for some hiking and maybe even arrange a visit to Glen Coe.“
Upgrade of the Glen Mallan jetty was overseen by the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organization (DIO) who worked with partners VokerStein and Jacobs.
The work also benefited local suppliers and small and medium enterprises in Scotland to the tune of £20M.
The work included the redevelopment of the jetty, installation of navigational aids, fender space units, mooring dolphins and two new ammunitioning cranes.