Britain’s biggest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth made waves in the Big Apple at the beginning a historic week-long visit to New York…

The ultimate symbol of British naval power dropped anchor within sight of the Statue of Liberty and the skyscrapers of Lower Manhattan for seven days in New York’s Upper Bay – in full view of Ellis and Liberty Island tourists and thousands of commuters on the Staten Island ferry.

The visit – on the back of three weeks of intensive maiden trials with the new F-35 Lightning jet – allows the ship to host several high profile national and international events. There will also be time for the ship’s company to relax and explore one of the world’s greatest cities.

The ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd, said: “I am delighted and proud to have brought HMS Queen Elizabeth into New York Harbour for the first time. This visit is very symbolic of the intimate relationship the Royal Navy has with the US Navy and Marine Corps and comes at the mid-way point in the F-35 flight trials – we have over 170 embarked US staff at the moment on board in support.”

The Portsmouth-based carrier was welcomed into the city which never sleeps by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson who hailed the leviathan’s arrival as a key moment in Anglo-American relations.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth is not just a warship, but a symbol of our enduring commitment to our security, and the security of our allies too,” he said. “This state-of-the-art ship is built on more than 470 years of proud Royal Navy history and her entry into New York Harbour shows that our armed forces are ready to stand by our allies for generations to come.”

With 1,500 men and women aboard – a mix of military and civilians, ship’s company, Royal Marines commandos, test pilots and aviation engineers – the 65,000-tonne warship had just 100 miles to sail from the exercise area off Virginia where she conducted Lightning trials, including the first landing and take-off, to her anchorage in New York.

Air Engineering Technician Aaron Moment, who is part of the detachment from RNAS Yeovilton’s 845 Naval Air Squadron on board, said: “This will be my second time in New York but I am really excited to be going back with my squadron as part of HMS Queen Elizabeth. We’re all planning on seeing the sights, taking a trip to Times Square and paying respects at the 9/11 memorial.

“The last few weeks at sea have been challenging but I have loved every minute of it. We have all put in a lot of hard work and performed really well. Seeing the F-35 Lightning jets landing on board for the first time was a real highlight too.”

The visit brings to an end Captain Kyd’s stint as the first Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth. He hands over to Captain Nick Cooke-Priest who will take the future flagship through her second spell of Lightning trials.

Those trials resume with far more achieved in the first three weeks than anticipated: 98 take-offs using the ski ramp, the first ‘rolling’ landing, bringing the F-35 to a stop on the flight deck instead of the aircraft dropping down vertically, night flying and even some rough weather trials to begin pushing the conditions in which the carrier can operate her air power safely.

Capt Jerry Kyd added: “It has been a superb effort by everyone across the Integrated Test Force and HMS Queen Elizabeth so far – I could not be more pleased with the team spirit and dynamism shown by all. That has delivered a volume of quality data which has put us well ahead of where we expected to be at this stage. I am very grateful to all the Integrated Test Force folk who have been focused, professional and willing to go the extra mile.”