HMS Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers and the Fleet Flagship of the Royal Navy. Capable of carrying 60 aircraft including fixed wing, rotary wing and autonomous vehicles, she is named in honour of the first Queen Elizabeth, a World War I era super-dreadnought, which in turn was named after Queen Elizabeth I. The carrier Queen Elizabeth will carry her namesake ship’s honours, as well as her Tudor rose-adorned crest and motto. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy.
The ship began sea trials in June 2017, and was commissioned on 7 December 2017. Her first Commanding Officer was Commodore Jerry Kyd, who had previously commanded the carriers Ark Royal and Illustrious. Queen Elizabeth has no catapults or arrestor wires and is instead designed to operate V/STOL aircraft. The air wing will typically consist of F-35B Lightning II multirole fighters and Merlin helicopters for airborne early warning and anti-submarine warfare. The design emphasises flexibility, with accommodation for 250 Royal Marines and the ability to support them with attack helicopters and large troop transports such as Chinooks.
The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in at an enormous four acres, and will be used to launch the fearsome new F35 Joint Strike Fighter fast jet. Four fighter jets can be moved from the hangar to the flight deck in just one minute.
Defensive weapons include the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence, and 30mm Automated Small Calibre Guns and Miniguns for use against fast attack craft. She would be escorted into high risk areas by the Type 45 destroyer, which was made specially to fulfil this role. In lower risk situations, frigates or even patrol vessels may be used instead. It will carry 4 miniguns and 8 general purpose machine guns.