Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to arrive in Portsmouth within weeks

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The Royal Navy's future flagship is expected to arrive in her new home port within weeks, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has confirmed.

The £3 billion aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail into Portsmouth following extensive preparations at the naval base to accommodate the largest ship in the fleet. 

Weather conditions mean the exact date of the carrier's arrival is yet to be confirmed. The window for entry will open on August 17 and the vessel is expected to dock no later than August 22.

The 280-metre, 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier has been undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Rosyth dockyard in June. 

The carrier currently has no planes but flying trials are due to begin next year, with 10 F-35 Lightning II jets and 120 aircrew preparing for the task in the United States.

Sir Michael said: "In just two weeks' time, the most powerful warship ever built for Britain's famous Royal Navy is set to sail into her proud new home in Portsmouth.

"HMS Queen Elizabeth? will be the Royal Navy's flagship for the next 50 years, keeping us safe by deploying across the seven seas, using her strike power to deter our enemies."

Preparations for the warship's arrival saw more than 20,000 items ranging from a human skull to sea mines dredged up from Portsmouth Harbour.

A total of 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment - the equivalent of 12,800 Olympic swimming pools - were removed during the dredging operation carried out to deepen the harbour mouth to enable the Queen Elizabeth to reach Portsmouth Naval Base.