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HMS Queen Elizabeth captain 'kept eyes open' for tight docking manoeuvre

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK's newest aircraft carrier, which arrived in Portsmouth this morning. Photo: PA Images

The commander of the largest and most powerful British warship ever built said he did not shut his eyes as HMS Queen Elizabeth was manoeuvred into her home port.

With crowds lining the shoreside around Portsmouth to welcome the 280-metre long aircraft carrier into her Naval Base home on Wednesday, Captain Jerry Kyd, from Knutsford, Cheshire, said berthing the ship was a "historic" moment and was a fantastic day.

Quizzed about getting the ship into the harbour and then the base, where at its narrowest there is less than 20 metres of clearance on each side of the warship, Captain Kyd told the Press Association: "I didn't shut my eyes."

Captain Kyd said the whole feeling around the ship is one of "excitement and also one of very intense pride of what has been achieved". Credit: PA Images

With Portsmouth harbour built more than 600 years ago and for much smaller ships, he said it was "quite tight coming through the gap", but said they had practised for it.

Pressed on whether the homecoming of the £3 billion behemoth was an emotional moment for him and the 700-strong ship's company, Captain Kyd said it very much was.

"It was emotional because for me as an aircraft carrier captain, I brought HMS Ark Royal in here for her last arrival some seven years ago," he said.

"So for me, it is full circle in a way - bringing the new generation of the next aircraft carrier into service for me is something very special professionally, and also personally.

"I think it is what the country needs, I think it is what the Armed Forces needs to give a balanced power projection capability.

"There were no tears in my eyes, but there was a feeling of intense pride and satisfaction. And I was just so pleased for my ship's company who have done so well and so much work over the last few years.

"For them it was a great day."

Crowds turned up before sunrise to see HMS Queen Elizabeth arrive in Portsmouth. Credit: PA Images

Captain Kyd said the whole feeling around the ship is one of "excitement and also one of very intense pride of what has been achieved".

He added that sense of achievement is felt "not just across the Royal Navy, but also our industrial partners on board to get this ship out from the builders yard seven weeks ago".

Captain Kyd also revealed that he is very much looking forward to enjoying a gin and tonic once he gets home.