RNR Air Branch visit to Queen Elizabeth carrier
The chance to look over the colossus New Aircraft Carrier was not to be missed and twelve reservists, hosted by Warrant officer 1’s Mick Davidson and Nick Downs from the Ship’s company were quick to sign up.
The Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers are the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy and represent a change in capability for the Fleet Air Arm.
On arrival at Rosyth briefings from WO1 Mick Davidson brought into focus the ability of QEC and what she will be expected to deliver. He said:
“QEC will operate Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and will give the UK the ability to project military power from anywhere in the world. It can move around 500 miles a day and can operate a mix of 40 aircraft to support a broad range of operations.”
Warrant Officer 1 (Aircraft Handler) Charlie Vickers, now an Air Branch reservist has served on two of the previous HMS Invincible class aircraft carriers and HMS Hermes during his Naval career.
He has also spent time onboard with the US Navy and was part of a team advising Naval Command on the American Carriers operated.
“This is an amazing thing to see,” said Charlie. “I’ve worked on British and visited US carriers and it’s taking us back into flying Strike aircraft at Sea again.
“It will be an enormous shift in the way we operate and work. The Aircraft handler’s branch is going to be very busy for a long time to come.”
Also among the Reservists was Chief Petty Officer (AH) John Campbell, Chief of the Air Branch. He served on the Old HMS Ark Royal in the late 1970’s when her fixed wing aircraft complement consisted of Phantom Air Defence and Buccaneer Strike Jets as well as Gannet Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
“As an aircraft handler you can’t fail to be impressed by everything on QEC. From Flight deck down to workshops and living areas it’s marvellous to see it all.
“Certainly the proudest man when she goes to Sea will be the ‘Captain of the Flight deck’ on that first deployment. It’s like being on a Naval Air Station at Sea.”