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HMS Queen Elizabeth: The British Navy's biggest warship

The HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth. Credit: PA

It would be harder to find a more grey, more miserable looking morning in Portsmouth Harbour.

But that’s perhaps what you should expect when you’ve organised a huge delegation of VIPs - and the Head of State - to congregate on the dockside at the beginning of December.

The Queen walks with the ship's commanding officer as she arrives at the ceremony. Credit: PA

The reason why the Queen is here is to formally commission into the Royal Navy the ship which bears her name.

The Queen speaks during the commissioning ceremony for the warship Credit: PA

The aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, isn’t any old ship.

At 65,000 tonnes, it’s the biggest warship ever built for the British Navy.

You’ll find an ample 4 acres of space on the flight deck capable of supporting 48 fighter jets and helicopters.

Although, you won’t find any of the jets on board today.

Royal Navy ratings practice in the hanger of HMS Queen Elizabeth ahead of her commissioning ceremony. Credit: PA

The UK government has only ordered around a dozen so far – and it’s understood the original plan to buy 135 of the new generation F-35 jets is being scaled back because of a lack of available funds in the Ministry of Defence.

The Queen has stepped on board this huge vessel once before.

It was in 2014 in Rosyth in Scotland where the aircraft carrier was assembled.

Then, the Queen officially named the ship (after herself).

Workers carry a sign for HMS Queen Elizabeth. Credit: PA

Today’s service marks the moment that HMS Queen Elizabeth completes her sea trials and is ready to be commissioned into the fleet.

The White Ensign was raised on the upper deck before the Queen made a speech to the Ship’s Company (700 are required to operate the ship but she can carry 1,600 personnel when a full air group is assembled).

The Queen was joined by her daughter, Princess Anne, who is Commodore-in-Chief of the Portsmouth naval base where this aircraft carrier will be based.

The Princess Royal was also present at the ceremony Credit: PA

However, the ship is still some way off being ready for active service. She must first carry out more trials of the F-35 fighter jets - when they finally come off the production line in the USA (final number to be determined)

Crew members onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth during a previous sea trial. Credit: PA

And Queen Elizabeth won’t be ready to join the Carrier Strike Group until 202 1- more than a decade after the Navy’s previous aircraft carriers were scrapped by the coalition government to save money.

The second aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is still under construction in Rosyth and she was named earlier this year by the Prince of Wales himself.