The Invergordon Archive

HMS Queen Elizabeth at Invergordon
The Invergordon Archive
HMS Queen Elizabeth at Invergordon

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently undergoing sea trials after leaving Rosyth dockyard where she was built. This was a planned visit and must have sparked memories for those who saw aircraft carriers in the Firth on a regular basis after the Second World War.
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Picture added on 14 July 2017 at 13:11
Great to see a Royal Navy ship back in Invergordon, albeit not commissioned but better than nothing.
Added by Eddie Trotter on 30 July 2017
Right on Eddie. I Remember how great the fleet looked in formation at their buoys in the Firth.
Added by Harry O'Neill on 02 August 2017
Yes, great to see an aircraft carrier in the Firth again. For anyone interested worth checking the following link at British Pathe films archive. It shows HM Queen Elizabeth inspecting the fleet on board the aircraft carrier HMS Albion at Invergordon in 1957.
Added by Graeme Askew on 03 August 2017
Hi Harry, yes it was really something to watch as the ships returned to the firth after their exercises. Watching the destroyers approaching their buoys, one got the feeling the Captains on each ship tried to show they could do it faster. Sometimes wondered how the whalers managed to get to the buoys in time and the destroyer stopped without hitting the buoy.
Added by Eddie Trotter on 04 August 2017
Hi Eddie, that reminds me of when the RN reserves used to come in, they had boats a bit smaller than a Frigate. They used to practice coming along-side the middle pier. Some were good at it others took many attempts.
My cousin Roy Daniels and I were in a row boat one time and we shot out from under the pier interfering with one boats attempt, all heck broke loose with horns and whistles. We just kept on rowing..
Added by Harry O'Neill on 04 August 2017
Harry, I think they used minesweepers based in South Queensferry, and it wasn't unusual for one boat to use the one in front of as a brake.
Added by Eddie Trotter on 04 August 2017
I am surprised to see such a large vessel so close inshore. In my day the biggest ship in the RN was HMS Eagle. When the fleet was in port she was always berthed well out into the Firth, nearer to Cromarty than Inverg. I assume to accommodate cruise ships the shipping channels are dredged from time to time?
Added by Bill Geddes on 16 October 2017
The deep channel of the Firth runs from between the north and south Sutors right up the Firth to a point opposite Highland Deephaven (on the site of the old Novar Airfield), a little way past the long pier. The channel is at its deepest at the Sutors, some 25 fathoms, and gradually becomes shallower as it runs west and then south-west. The ends of the piers at Highland Deephaven and Saltburn, the Admiralty Pier and the Service Base are all on the edge of this channel and explains why the Deephaven, Admiralty and Saltburn piers are the lengths they are.

Silting of the channel, particularly at the Queen’s Dock, the Service Base, the Admiralty Pier, and probably the Saltburn Pier, is a problem as a large amount of silt is washed down by the natural flow from the River Conan. This part of the channel is regularly dredged to maintain the right operational depth.

The reason that HMS Queen Elizabeth was berthed at the Service Base was that she would have needed some repairs and inspections as part of her sea trials. The Base would have provided ideal access for such work and provided the necessary security for such an operation. Security at the base while she was docked would have been at maximum and we all know what that means having seen pictures on national TV of the aftermath of terrorist actions recently in London and Manchester. I know that many have views on the lack of access afforded the general public around the west harbour area, but had there not been total security around the whole Port area then HMS Queen Elizabeth would never have come close to the Cromarty Firth.

Bill, you mention that when the fleet was in port HMS Eagle was always berthed well out into the Firth, nearer Cromarty than Invergordon. She would have been anchored in the deep channel and would not have come to the Firth for repairs. In any event I would guess that the Service Base had not been constructed, nor the Saltburn Pier, and the Admiralty Pier may not have had sufficient mooring facilities for such a large vessel at that time.
Added by Malcolm McKean on 20 October 2017
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The Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth back in InvergordonShips in the floating dock at InvergordonL Block Section 3 & 4 InvergordonV Block Section I-2'U' Block StaffAerial View looking NorthNew sign at Natal GardenGeorge Bailey aboard Muriel NAAFI Supply BoatThe Fleet in the Cromarty FirthNorthern Barrage - US Minelayers and a British Cruiser in the Cromarty Firth