Aircraft carrier postpones sailing after crew members test positive for virus

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has postponed its sailing from Portsmouth Naval Base after a number of crew tested positive for Covid-19.

The £3 billion warship was set to leave Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Monday afternoon for training exercises but the departure was put on hold at the last moment.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed that "fewer than 10" members of the 1,000-strong crew had tested positive for the coronavirus and had been taken ashore to be put into isolation in barracks.

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Well-wishers wave off the Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as it sailed through the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour, to set sail for sea trials.
Members of the ship's company stand on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, as they cheer off veterans aboard the MV Boudicca sail out of Portsmouth Harbour for the he Port of Le Havre in France as part of the commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
File photo dated 18/08/18 of HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving Portsmouth Harbour in Hampshire. The Royal Navy's aircraft carrier will be deployed to the eastern seaboard of America later this summer, the Ministry of Defence has announced.
A mast is lowered on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth allowing it to pass under the Forth Rail Bridge as it leaves the Firth of Forth following maintenance at the Rosyth Dockyards.
The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth passes the cruise liner MSC Orchestra as she leaves the Firth of Forth following maintenance at the Rosyth Dockyards.
File photo dated 18/3/2018 of HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving Portsmouth Harbour. In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the carrier, embarked with UK and US F-35 jets, will be deployed on her first operational mission to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Pacific region - where Beijing has been involved in a dispute over navigation rights and territorial claims in the South China Sea.
HMS Queen Elizabeth dockside at HMNB Portsmouth.
File photo dated 16/8/2017 of HMS Queen Elizabeth arriving at Portsmouth Harbour. In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the carrier, embarked with UK and US F-35 jets, will be deployed on her first operational mission to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Pacific region - where Beijing has been involved in a dispute over navigation rights and territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth, returning home from her four-month Westlant deployment after successfully conducting flight trials of the F-35B fighter jets.
Crew onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth as she leaves Portsmouth Harbour in Hampshire for the US to undergo flight trials with the F35B for the first time.
General view of HMS Queen Elizabeth, as final preparations are made prior to her setting sail for the US to undergo flight trials with the F35B for the first time.
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Other sailors who had contact with their infected crew-mates will isolate on board the 65,000 tonne ship which is expected to leave Portsmouth as soon as Tuesday.

It is the second time the carrier has had to postpone its sailing after two crew members tested positive for Covid-19 in April.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "A small number of HMS Queen Elizabeth's personnel have tested positive for Covid during routine preparation for sailing.

"Those affected have been isolated and are working with the NHS Test and Trace system to ensure the virus does not spread further.

"The crew will continue to follow appropriate health guidelines and the HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart once their status has been confirmed."

The spokesman said that the decision when to sail would be left to the carrier's commanding officer Captain Angus Essenhigh who will act on PHE guidance.

The carrier is expected to carry out training exercises at sea before returning to base for supplies ahead of departing for major international exercises including the embarkment for the first time of both US and UK F35 Lightning jets.

It is aiming to declare strike carrier capability later this year ahead of its first operational deployment in 2021.

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