May 24, 2016 - The nation’s future flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth, currently being built in Scotland, has reached a major milestone in her program with the arrival of the first Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd.
Captain Kyd, who will be responsible for leading the men and women who will operate the 65,000 tonne ship from her future base port, Portsmouth Naval Base, took command of his ship today (24 May 2016).
In his first speech to his ship’s company, Captain Kyd said: “It is a singular honor to be taking command of you today, the crew of our future Flagship.
"I am extremely proud to be leading you as the ship’s first Captain as we work together with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance to sail from Rosyth for sea trials early next year.”
“Let us be proud in purpose and focused in our work as we look to the sea and our arrival in our home port of Portsmouth in about a year’s time.”
Although Captain Kyd remains a substantive Commodore (one of 80 in a fleet of vessels), he will follow historical custom and routinely wear the rank of Captain Royal Navy in his role as Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
He takes over from Captain Simon Petitt who has been Senior Naval Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales as they generate through their build programs.
On leaving the ship for the last time, Captain Petitt said: “It has been an extreme honor to be in charge of the first crew of the Navy’s future flagship and play a small part in shaping how the ship will operate.
"It is without doubt the pinnacle of my career.
"In particular watching a shell of a ship develop at pace and a ship’s company grow from 9 to 580 personnel, which I proudly hand over to Captain Kyd to take to sea.
"I congratulate the Aircraft Carrier Alliance for their tremendous work and my crew, for their support.”
Joining as the Senior Naval Officer of the sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, Captain Ian Groom, said: “Today marks a proud moment in my naval career as I assume responsibility for the rapidly growing ship’s company of HMS Prince of Wales. I am delighted to join at such an exciting time and be part of such a professional dedicated team.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth, will set sail for the first time in early 2017 when she will move to her permanent home on the Princess Royal Jetty in Portsmouth Naval Base, with HMS Prince of Wales following in 2019.
The carriers will provide over 4 acres of sovereign territory which can be deployed around the world, travelling at upwards of 500nm a day. Both ships are capable of carrying up to 36 F-35B Lightning II stealth jets, capable of sharing vast amounts of information and landing vertically on the flight deck.
The fifth generation fighters will be operated by 809 Naval Air Squadron, ‘The Immortals’, first formed 75 years ago, and 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force known as ‘The Dambusters’ for their daring war time raid on the Ruhr Valley.
They will share the 280-meter-long flight deck with helicopters from all three services. Combined, they will transform the Royal Navy’s ability to project UK influence overseas.