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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 12:46 GMT
Queen Mother celebrates ship's return
Queen Mother
The Queen Mother was greeted by Captain Snelson
The Queen Mother has said it is "wonderful" that the Royal Navy's largest aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Roya,l is to go back to sea following a major refit.

The 101-year-old made a rare appearence outside London and arrived on board the vessel in Portsmouth by helicopter.

She was welcomed by the commanding officer Captain David Snelson at the re-dedication ceremony.

With the aid of two walking sticks she made the short walk from the helicopter to the aircraft lift where she stopped to wave to members of the public.

'Wonderful ship'

The Queen Mother is patron of HMS Ark Royal and the ceremony was taking place as the ship re-enters service with the Royal Navy after a 147m refit in Scotland.

During the ceremony, the Queen Mother thanked the ships' company and praised the vessel

"I find that I'm so happy that I am once again aboard Ark Royal... I launched her and her predeccssor so it's wonderful to feel that she's going to be at sea and guarding our shores as in days of yore.

"She is a wonderful ship and I hope you will all be happy in her."

Royal sponsor

The Queen Mother launched the ship in June 1981 on Tyneside and remains the vessel's royal sponsor.

The refurbishment is expected to prolong its seaworthiness by an extra 15 years.

There have been five Ark Royals in the Royal Navy's history.

The first was built for Sir Walter Raleigh and saw action against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The other four were all built in the 20th Century.

The third was sunk by a German warship during World War II.

See also:

22 Nov 01 | Scotland
New start for revamped navy ship
28 Aug 01 | Scotland
Ark Royal goes home after refit
05 Aug 01 | UK
Ballet ends Royal birthday
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