The first of a new generation of British aircraft carriers arrived off Annapolis on Tuesday afternoon, part of a weekslong trials and training exercise off the east coast of the United States.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in the Annapolis anchorage just south of the Bay Bridge, where it hosted the Defense and Security Trade exhibition on Wednesday and the 2019 Atlantic Future Forum on Thursday, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Royal Navy.
The Royal Navy event will involve guests from industry, military and the government to discuss artificial intelligence, robotics and big data.
“Through a series of keynote speeches and panel discussions, the Forum will explore how both private and public sector and US and UK interests can work together to maximize the opportunities — and mitigate the risks — posed by current and future technologies,” the forum said in announcing the conference.
The arrival of the ship off Annapolis, announced as part of its Canadian-U.S. deployment in September, was posted on the Pride of Baltimore II Facebook page along with a photo. Members of the British diplomatic corps in Washington and local guests were expected to start visiting the ship Wednesday.
It is the first time a Royal Navy ship has visited Annapolis in more than 60 years. Among those invited aboard are Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley and Naval Academy midshipmen. Watermark, the Annapolis based tour company, is providing 24-hour launch service to the carrier during its visit to Annapolis, a company officials said.
“We’re proud and excited to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth for this historic visit," Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said in a prepared statement released by the Royal Navy. “The U.S. Naval Academy enjoys a long-standing relationship with our counterparts in Dartmouth through many professional and academic engagements throughout the year.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from the Royal Navy base in Portsmouth on Aug. 30 to take part in Westlant19, weeks of operational testing with the U.S. built-F-35B Lightning aircraft. It is scheduled for its first deployment in 2021, according to Jane’s 360, a defense industry website.
The ship arrived at Naval Station Norfolk in early September before heading north to Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Southern Maryland, where it took on Marine Corps F-35B jets for takeoffs and landings over 11 weeks at sea, according to the Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Virginia.
From there, the 918-foot carrier, with a distinctive ski-jump launch ramp, arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Sept. 12. The $3 billion carrier was commissioned in 2017 and is still in its trials and testing phase.
The ship weighs 65,000 tons, with a speed of 25+ knots and capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft. The flight deck covers four acres. The ship’s two propellers weigh 33 tons each. The conventional powerplant behind them generates enough power to run 1,000 family cars, the Royal Navy said.
On Nov. 14, the ship announced via social media that it had begun conducting its first launch and landing exercises.