By Tony Winterburn • 07 September 2020 • 20:56
The Royal Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has postponed sailing from its Portsmouth base after some crew members tested positive for Covid-19.
THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the affected sailors were isolating in barracks ashore. The €3.6 billion aircraft carrier, which has a crew of 1,000, had been set to leave its base on Monday for training exercises. Sailors who had contact with their infected crew mates will now have to isolate on board the vessel.
The warship was set to leave Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Monday afternoon for training exercises, but the departure was put on hold at the last moment. It is the second time the carrier has had to postpone its sailing after two crew members tested positive for Covid-19 in April.
A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: “A small number of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s personnel have tested positive for Covid during routine preparation for sailing. Those affected have been isolated and are working with the NHS Test and Trace system to ensure the virus does not spread further. The crew will continue to follow appropriate health guidelines and the HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart once their status has been confirmed.”
The spokesman said that the decision when to sail would be left to the carrier’s commanding officer Captain Angus Essenhigh who will act on PHE guidance. The carrier is expected to carry out training exercises at sea before returning to base for supplies ahead of departing for major international exercises including the embarkment for the first time of both US and UK F35 Lightning jets. It is aiming to declare strike carrier capability later this year ahead of its first operational deployment in 2021.
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