HMS Queen Elizabeth naming ceremony
Speaking at an event ahead of the HMS Queen Elizabeth naming ceremony, Philip Hammond told more than 200 business leaders that the sector should be proud of its work on the biggest ship ever built for the Royal Navy. HMS Queen Elizabeth is also the biggest ship in Europe and the largest outside the US fleet.
In his speech to the Institute of Directors, the Defence Secretary thanked the tens of thousands of workers who have been involved in constructing the aircraft carrier at shipyards and companies across the UK.
More than 5,000 people witnessed the Queen give her blessing to Britain’s largest ever warship as she formally named HMS Queen Elizabeth.
An hour-long ceremony in Rosyth – flypasts, religious blessings, nautical music and full military pomp mixed with modern audio-visuals – concluded with Her Majesty ‘christening’ the 65,000-tonne carrier by smashing a bottle of whisky against the hull.
“This is the beginning of a national icon, keeping the ‘great’ in Great Britain and ‘royal’ in Royal Navy.”
Thus did Britain’s most senior sailor, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas, hail HMS Queen Elizabeth as the monarch today formally named the largest, most powerful surface ship ever to fly the White Ensign.
On a sullen, occasionally drizzly, day on the north shore of the Forth, more than 5,000 sailors, shipwrights and their families, and VIPs from north and south of the border gathered to hear Her Majesty utter the immortal words: I name this ship Queen Elizabeth, may God bless her and all who sail in her.
With the press of a button, a bottle of Scottish whisky slammed into the bow of the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, shattered, and thus bestowed the ship with good luck.
The naming ceremony – played out before 80 media and broadcast live by television news channel – was the equivalent of a ship’s launch.
But because of the way HMS Queen Elizabeth has been built – by six yards around the UK, with the segments pieced together in a cavernous dry dock at Rosyth – there was no clank of chains and dramatic sight of a vessel running down a slipway into the water for the first time.
Instead, guests – among them Prime Minister David Cameron, former premier Gordon Brown, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond – were treated to an hour-long audio-visual treat, a mix of the traditional and the modern.
Scottish pipe bands and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Scotland provided suitable musical accompaniment, from Highland songs to Sailing and the Naval Hymn.
In between, huge TV screens broadcast videos, showing what the carrier – and her sister HMS Prince of Wales – will bring to the nation, and the national effort that has gone into creating the vessels which have been 15 years in the design and five years building so far.
The Red Arrows flew over the carrier leaving trails of red, white and blue smoke which quickly dispersed in the stiff Forth breeze.
At mid-day precisely, the order ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth ship’s company, man ship’ rang out around Rosyth and sailors stepped forward on the upper deck of the carrier, side-by-side with the men and women who built her to rounds of applause from the audience.
They heard Admiral Zambellas proclaim their ship as “a steel-clad phoenix” and “the jewel in the crown of UK defence”.
He continued: “Queen Elizabeth heralds a new dawn for the Royal Navy and our nation’s security.
“She is a mighty ship – she has presence, she dwarfs, and she is most certainly fit for a Queen. She is the expression of our national ambition. Expect to see her ready, with her White Ensign flying around the world.”
With the Royal Standard and Union Jack billowing furiously, the Queen stepped forward on the dais to address all present, especially the ship’s company.
“I believe that the Queen Elizabeth as the flagship of the Royal Navy will be a source of inspiration and pride for us all,” Her Majesty said.
“Wherever she may serve, whatever tasks may be asked of her, let all those who serve on her know that on this day she was blessed with the prayers of us all for her success and for her safe return to calm waters.”
To the strains of a lone piper, the culverts in the dry dock were opened to allow water in for the first time since construction of the ship began.
Proceedings concluded with a fly-past by seven RN and RAF helicopters and three Hawk jets of 736 NAS.
Video from the naming ceremony.
Captain Jeremy Kyd, video
Sky news report
If you have the stamina, here is the whole ceremony. The Video is over 2hrs long.
Or a shorter highlights video