The Queen’s Harbour Master [QHM] Steve Hopper has released the latest provisional details of the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s future movements.
The shipping movements for Portsmouth Harbour on Monday list the main Harbour channel being closed to all shipping at 12.15pm and HMS Queen Elizabeth setting sail – accompanied by six tugs; Tempest, Bountiful, Indulgent, Independent, Suzanne and Christina – at 12.45pm.
But we shouldn’t hold our breath after provisional sailings on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of this week all failed to materialise.
On Monday, Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin had said the carrier was due to begin the second phase of her trials this week, “weather permitting”.
However, whilst weather conditions have been blamed for the failure of Britain’s first super aircraft carrier to sail, sources inside Portsmouth Dockyard have actually laid the blame on serious technical problems aboard the vessel.
“She should never have left Rosyth,” We have been told by an anonymous Dockyard source. “They knew she had major technical issues but the Secretary of State pushed for her early arrival in Portsmouth.”
“The issues have not been resolved and we have BAE engineers tearing their hair out whilst MoD apparatchiks are constantly on their backs.
“If it she sails on Monday it’ll be a major achievement. I’ll be surprised!” he added.
Defence Minister Ms Baldwin said HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has yet to be officially commissioned by the Senior Service, “remained on track to be accepted into the Royal Navy this year”.
The former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West, said the carrier would always be available in a crisis, but it would be “stupid” to conduct sea trials when the weather was “iffy”.
He said, “When you have to sail because it’s operational, and you scrape something on the way out, that’s just the way it goes.”
Rather bizarrely the ‘Defence Correspondent’ for the Portsmouth Evening News accused the Queen’s Harbour Master of ‘speculation’ over the published details – despite the fact the request to move will have been made by the actual captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Commodore Jerry Kyd, and the list is published by the Royal Navy itself, in conjunction with the QHM.
Commodore Jerry Kyd is the former Captain of HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious and the QHM is retired Royal Navy Commodore Steve Hopper, who was decorated during the Falklands Campaign – both slightly more qualified than someone with a spiral notebook and an NVQ from South Downs College.
Will HMS Queen Elizabeth sail on Monday…we will have to wait and see…