PORTSMOUTH, England (UPI) — Great Britain’s largest aircraft carrier, the newly built HMS Queen Elizabeth, arrived in Portsmouth, England, to a festive welcome Wednesday.
The 919-foot, 65,000-ton warship sailed into its home port on the English Channel as thousands of people watched. Speaking aboard the vessel, Prime Minister Theresa May called it a symbol of the United Kingdom’s stratus as a “great global maritime nation.”
“Britain can be proud of this ship and what it represents. It sends a clear signal that as Britain forges a new, positive, confident role on the world stage in the years ahead we are determined to remain a fully engaged global power, working closely with our friends and allies around the world.”
The carrier underwent tests at sea after sailing from the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland, where it was constructed. The $3.86 billion project to build the warship began in 2009.
Admiral Sir Philip Jones, head of the Royal Navy, called the ceremony “truly a proud moment for Portsmouth, for the Royal Navy and for the United Kingdom.”
“In the years and decades to come, she and her sister ship will demonstrate the kind of nation we are — not a diminished nation, withdrawing from the world, but a confident, outward-looking and ambitious nation, with a Royal Navy to match,” Jones said.
The carrier, which can accommodate 40 aircraft, was joined by a flotilla of military ships, as well as flyovers during the ceremony by military helicopters and jets.
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