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Hundreds gather to welcome giant aircraft carrier ship

Hundreds of people have lined the coast to view a giant US aircraft carrier arriving for a five-day visit.

The 100,000-tonne ship USS Theodore Roosevelt has anchored off Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hampshire, as it is too big to sail into Portsmouth Harbour. The promenade was packed with visitors wanting to get a glance of the 1,092ft-long carrier which is affectionately known as the Big Stick.

The visit forms parts of an ongoing partnership between the Royal Navy and US

The ship, which is making its first port of call in its round-the-world deployment, is substantially larger than the Royal Navy's next generation of carriers which weigh in at 65,000 tonnes.

More than 5,000 sailors are set to swamp Portsmouth during the visit, giving a boost to local businesses.

The visit forms parts of an ongoing partnership between the Royal Navy and US on carrier operations until the first of the new carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, enters service in 2017.

Senior officers will call on Royal Navy top brass during the visit to discuss recent global operations and get an update on the UK's carrier programme.

"We warmly welcome the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group - a reflection of the close partnership between our nations and navies, and the value of credible seapower in support of our shared national interests. "Across the spectrum - from Type 45 destroyers providing area air defence for US carriers launching air strikes against ISIL, to generous US support as we regenerate our own carrier strike capability - our common bond has never been richer."

– Admiral Sir George Zambellas, The Royal Navy's First Sea Lord


Prime Minister pledges to safeguard defence jobs at Gosport, Portsmouth and at RAF Odiham

The Prime Minister is visiting Hampshire to confirm millions of pounds in defence investment securing more than 400 jobs.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has signed a £420 million contract with Boeing - which makes the Chinook helicopter - for 'in-service support'.

The contract will last for five years and will safeguard 450 jobs at Fleetlands in Gosport, with other technical support provided at RAF Odiham near Basingstoke and sites across the UK.

David Cameron is expected to tell defence workers based in Gosport, Portsmouth and RAF Odiham that their jobs are secure thanks to a deal to maintain the Chinook helicopter fleet and to prepare the naval dockyard for the new HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.

One of the RAF's Chinooks based at RAF Odiham flying above the Hampshire countryside Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Chinook is the UK’s only military heavy lift helicopter and can transport up to 54 troops or 10 tonnes of supplies.

The RAF's fleet of Chinooks will total 60 in number by early 2017 and includes the new Mark 6 helicopters.

David Cameron will also announce the preferred bidders to occupy the Portsmouth ship hall facilities.

At the end of last month, it was announced by the MOD that three companies had been shortlisted.

In November 2013, it was announced 940 ship building jobs were to be lost by BAE at their Portsmouth yard.

It was feared at the time that the move would mean the end of shipbuilding in the city bringing to an end a centuries old local industry that built the Tudor warship the Mary Rose.

  1. Emma Wilkinson (@emmawilkITV)

18-year-old in same wheelchair for a decade

A teenager with cerebral palsy has launched her own online campaign against the amount of time disabled people in Hampshire are having to wait for replacement wheelchairs.

Ailsa Speak from Gosport is still having to use the same chair she was given a decade ago when she was a child.

She says it causes her pain and discomfort and without a new one her life will be restricted:


Concern for missing teenager

Courtney Salway was last seen yesterday afternoon Credit: Hampshire Constabulary

Officers are appealing for help to trace a missing Gosport teenager.

Courtney Salway, 16, from Gosport was last seen on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 13 and last spoke to family and friends shortly after 6.30pm that evening.

Courtney is 5ft 4ins tall, with a medium build, and long dark brown hair. She was last seen wearing a long-sleeved black t-shirt, black jeans, black work type boots and a black leather jacket.

“Courtney is very vulnerable and we are extremely worried about her. It is likely she is still in the Gosport area but there is a chance she may have travelled further. We have spoken with her friends and family and have searched various places in Gosport that she is known to frequent. If you see her or think you might know where she is, please call us immediately so we can make sure she is safe and well.”

– PC Gary Jones

Extra beds open in Hampshire hospital to cope with winter demand

Gosport War Memorial Hospital gears up for winter rush Credit: ITV news

An extra 15 beds will be opened at Gosport War Memorial during this winter, to help maintain good patient care at the busiest time of the year.

The 'step down' beds will be available for people leaving a ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital, who no longer need to be at QA, but who still need extensive support to help them complete their recovery.

Funding for the initiative comes from the £8m investment being made into the NHS in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire this winter, the local element of a national £700m fund to ensure that local health and social services can meet the needs of patients when bad weather and seasonal illnesses are at their peak.

This development comes as another new scheme - the Enhanced Recovery at Home team - gets into its stride. The team, made up of staff from Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Hampshire County Council, is working to support people to live independently after a stay in hospital, or to give people the care they need to avoid having to go into hospital in the first place. The team is funded by £900,000 of the winter funding, and can provide a response within two hours for people who need help urgently.

David Chilvers, a Gosport GP and the clinical lead for Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group said: "These new beds will be a huge benefit to patients. Having this extra capacity in Gosport will make it easier for the NHS to move patients out of QA when they are ready to leave, and in turn that will make it easier for QA staff to admit patients from across the area who need their care. It is in absolutely nobody's interest for patients to be stuck in a bed at QA when they no longer need to be there, so we hope this additional capacity will have a positive impact."

Fresh inquiry into deaths at War Memorial Hospital

Their loved ones died at the Gosport War Memorial Hospital over fifteen years ago, and ever since they've been searching for answers.

Today a far reaching Independent Investigation has been launched by the Government to try and finally discover the truth into what happened to 92 elderly patients who died after being treated there.

It will be chaired by the former Bishop of Liverpool, who recently oversaw the Hillsborough inquiry. He'll be supported by medical experts, an investigative journalist and a former Scotland Yard commander.

Our Correspondent, Andrew Pate, has covered the story since the start, and reports on the latest developments.

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