A Co Antrim man has spoken of his pride in welcoming Her Majesty The Queen onboard the Royal Navy vessel, HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth.
Philip Crozier, from Greenisland, was one of a party who piped the monarch, The Princess Royal and VIPs onto the ship as it was formally commissioned into service last Thursday.
Describing the experience as an “honour”, the 23-year old told of how he was chosen to take part thanks to his skills at using the Bosun’s Call, a small handheld instrument.
Philip explained: “It would have been used back in the days of the sailing Navy to tell the crew what to do during battle. However now it is just used for ceremonial purposes.”
A former member of Carrickfergus Sea Cadets, Philip joined the Royal Navy in 2014. “I have been onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth since March 2016, so I have been there for all of the ‘firsts’ we have had so far,” he added.
“I helped bring the ship out of its build process in Rosyth Dockyard in Fife, and I was on the navigational bridge for the first helicopter landing on the flight deck.
“We also had the honour of sailing in convoy with a United States Naval task group, led by the Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier the USS George W Bush, 500 yards off our port beam.
“She even provided us with a magnificent fly past by three F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets.”
After an “intense” couple of months at sea taking the ship through it’s initial trials, the ship proceeded southward towards Portsmouth, reaching its home port on August 16 this year.
“To bring the ship out of its build, into her home port in front of around 100,000 people, and also through it’s official commissioning into the Royal Navy’s Fleet is something that I will always remember and something I will be able to tell stories about for years to come,” Philip said.
A Seamanship Specialist, Philip plays a number of roles onboard the vessel. “Upon entering and leaving harbour, we will man the ropes which hold our ship in place which is a tough job,” the former Downshire School pupil said.
“Whilst at sea we will maintain the decks and keep watches on the ship’s bridge, where we will man the helm and take the ship to it’s next destination. This is a massive responsibility because you are in full control of a £3billion ship. We are also in charge of dropping the ship’s anchor, which on this ship is very frequently because we are too big to fit into most ports.
“The next part of our trials start in January, when we will carry out rotary wing flying trials.
“We will then cross the Atlantic next summer and head towards Norfolk, Virginia where we will embark the F-35B lighting II joint strike fighter jets, before proceeding out to do fixed wing flying trials.” Joining Philip on board for the commissioning ceremony on December 7 were his parents, Joe and Diane. “Out of several hundred personnel, he and two others were chosen to welcome the Queen onto the ship,” Joe said.
“Our whole family are very proud of him.”