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Britain's biggest warship starts sea trials

By Chris Peterson in London | | Updated: 2017-06-27 00:24

Britain's biggest-ever warship, the 71,650 ton HMS Queen Elizabeth, set sail on its maiden voyage on Monday, with six weeks of trials scheduled before it's officially put into service.

The Queen Elizabeth is the Royal Navy's first carrier to be launched since 2010. It will operate 36 United States-built F-35B jump jets, although these will not be ready until 2021. In the meantime, US Marine Corps F-35Bs will operate from its decks as an interim measure.

A second carrier, the HMS Prince of Wales, is still being built at the Royal Naval dockyard in Rosyth, Scotland.

The Queen Elizabeth left its dry dock in Rosyth and headed for sea with 1,000 sailors and contractors at the start of its trials.

The two carriers have a joint price tag of 6 billion pounds ($7.6 billion) and are equipped with the now familiar "ski-jump" deck that allows fully laden fighter-bombers an easier way of getting airborne, rather than using steam catapults, as the US Navy does.

The flight deck is 18,211 square meters, which is enough space to park 470 double-decker London buses. Its top speed is "in excess of 25 knots", according to the Royal Navy.

A Royal Navy frigate will escort the carrier on her trials, which will mainly take place in the North Sea.

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