HMS Queen Elizabeth to anchor off Kirkcaldy tonight

Kirkcaldy folk are set to get a front row view of the Royal Navy’s largest ever ship.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has left Rosyth Naval base today and will later this evening pass under the iconic Forth bridges.

And the vessel with the £3billion pricetag is expected to anchor off Kirkcaldy overnight.

It is likely to be there for most of Tuesday as well, giving local folk a golden oppportunity to see it before it begins its first voyage at sea.

The ship – built in sections and assembled at the dockyard – is so big it has to rely on tides to get out, and then under, the bridge.

It left Rosyth at high tide which at around 5pm this afternoon.

The deck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Crown

The deck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Crown

But it will now have to wait until low tide at 11.30pm to begin its pass under the Forth Bridge.

Once that has been navigated, it will make its way along part of the Fife coast and out to sea.

It was a huge operation to get it out of the dock – the ship is 280m long and weighs some 65,000 tonnes.

It had just 14 inches to spare either side of the basin’s entrance.

the walkways will be closed on the Forth Road Bridge. Picture: Jane Barlow

the walkways will be closed on the Forth Road Bridge. Picture: Jane Barlow

Now in the Forth, it will then have to wait for low tide, and ideal wind conditions, before sailing under the three bridges – the Queensferry Crossing, the Forth Road Bridge and then the Forth Rail Bridge.

The ship’s state of the art radar atop its mast will have to be lowered to get under the road bridge, and even then it will only have two metres clear space.

As a result, Police Scotland and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance have already closed took the footpaths to all cyclists and walkers on the Forth Bridge “as a security precaution.”

The barriers were put in place earlier this afternoon, and the paths will remain around 1.30am on Tuesday.

The force said any cyclists or walkers who needed cross should contact Bridge Control on 0131 319 3083 to arrange a lift.

There are a number of vantage points along the coastal path from Rosyth to Kirkcaldy to see HMS Queen Elizabeth, although the operation to safely navigate the bridges and get it into the Forth may take a considerable time after low tide.