Crowds watch HMS Queen Elizabeth set off from home port


Crowds of people have gathered to see the Royal Navy's new £3 billion aircraft carrier depart from its home port for the first time.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth just after 12.45pm on Monday.

Around 1,000 people gathered by the Hampshire port to wave off the 919ft (280m), 65,000-tonne vessel on its month-long deployment at sea.

Clusters of people, some waving Union flags, headed for the Round Tower at the entrance to the harbour and gathered along the seafront to watch in the sun as the ship - capable of carrying 40 aircraft - left the naval base.

It left as planned on Monday afternoon supported by a group of four tugboats until it was out to sea. Bad weather conditions saw its departure delayed from last week.

The carrier is due to spend a month at sea around the south-west of the United Kingdom testing out its radar, communications and other technical equipment, the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) said.

HMS Queen Elizabeth

(Steve Parsons/PA)

Tests will also be carried out to see how air across the flight desk will affect aircraft taking off and landing.

Speaking after the ship left the port, Captain Jerry Kyd said: "She was stable and strong, which is important for aviation operations from an aircraft carrier flight deck. Very quickly we were able to run her at full power and she performed extremely well."

@HMSQnlz had moved off her berth and is getting ready to leave Portsmouth.

-- QEClass Carriers (@QEClassCarriers) October 30, 2017

The ACA operates the vessel until it is commissioned into the Royal Navy, which is expected to take place by the end of the year.

Tens of thousands of people lined the walls of the harbour in August to welcome the Navy's largest warship for the first time.

It arrived after setting out from Scotland's Rosyth dockyard in June when it carried out initial training and sea tests.