On Saturday 19 May 2018, 33 members of the Norwich Branch visited HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside in Portsmouth. We were met at the gate by our host for the visit, CPO ‘Nev’ Southall and LS ‘Bungy’ Williams to ensure we were all in possession of security and car passes; before being chaperoned to the Princess Royal Jetty.
It was the first visit to the dockyard for a good number of years for many of our members, and a vast amount of changes were noticeable, especially the facility that has been built to accommodate HMS Queen Elizabeth. Once through the security cordon we made our way up the gangway and were escorted to the hangar. To say that everyone’s mouth was wide open, and chins were dragging along the deck wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration.
Once in the hangar the Officer of the Day, Lt Matthew Williams, gave us a brief welcome to the ship before we were given a short talk on the hangar itself, explaining the layout and the facilities that have been included in the design of the area. The group was then split into two with one group, escorted by CPO ‘Nev’ Southall and AB Elizabeth “Beth” Ray, heading forward to the foc’sle and bridge, and the other group heading aft, being escorted by Lt Mathew “Artie” Shaw, LS Joe “Bungy” Williams and AB Rachel Quanbrough. The tours lasted approximately an hour and a half and took in the Bridge, the FLYCO (Flight Control), some of the FRPP’s (Fire Repair Party Post), and numerous other locations around the ship.
Meeting back up on the flight deck, the size of which is the same as 4 football pitches, and before leaving the ship a photo opportunity was taken with members of the Branch and our hosts. It is believed that Norwich are the first RNA Branch to visit the ship; and everyone present was extremely impressed with one of the latest additions to the Royal Navy.