Portsmouth, England—The Royal Navy is close to getting an aircraft-carrier at last.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is undergoing the final sea trials in Southern England, will be commissioned on December 7th.

“In a world of intensifying global threats, this magnificent ship will be a leading force fighting to protect the values of the UK and our allies,” said the new Secretary for Defence Gavin Williamson.

The 65,000-ton ship began her sea trials last month.  They included tests on its platform stability, manoeuvrability, and readiness capabilities.

The next and final step before being deemed operational are the flight trials.  HMS Queen Elizabeth’s 280-feet flight deck will be hosting the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, the maritime version of the expensive jet that is capable of short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) operations.  Currently, 12 UK F-35Bs are tested in the US before joining the ship next year.  The ship will able to carry 70 F-35Bs, plus helicopter squadrons.

The F-35B, the maritime version of the stealth jet (Wikimedia.org).

“We have worked so hard to get this ship to where it is now and built – but it is the final piece of the jigsaw,” said Captain Jerry Kyd, the ship’s commander.