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Commercial drone lands without being detected on deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) underway during exercise "Saxon Warrior 2017," 8 August 2017. (US Navy)
October 18, 2017

A commercial drone landed without raising an alarm on one of the British Royal Navy’s state-of-the-art aircraft carriers, baffling even the man who was flying the drone at the time.

The Telegraph reported that the drone user “managed to fly the drone past armed patrol boats before landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier” over the summer, according to local media reports in Scotland.

The pilot, who was never named, told reporters he was “amazed” how easy it was to land the drone on the deck of the aircraft carrier, The Telegraph reported.

“I was amazed that I was able to land on the aircraft carrier for two reasons, the first being that there was no one about to prevent it from landing although were security police around in small boats who were waving at the drone. The second reason was more technical. I received a high wind warning as I was videoing up and down the flight deck and my control system advised me to land,” he explained, The Telegraph reported.

When the drone landed, it was “like a ghost ship” – there was “absolutely no one around,” the man said, The Telegraph reported.

“After I posted the picture taken from the flight deck I got some flak from other drone users who were saying ‘You are going to make a lot of people unhappy.’ I thought the only law I had broken was that I flew over a vessel I didn’t have control over,” he explained, according to The Telegraph. “I was a bit concerned so I drove round to Invergordon and spoke to the port security and explained that I wanted to speak to someone from the ship such as the duty watch or the captain about what I had done.”

“I was only able to speak to some heavily armed police, I think from the MoD [Ministry of Defense], and they said there was no one available on the carrier as they were at dinner ashore,” he said, The Telegraph reported. “No-one seemed too concerned, but the officer I spoke to said he would pass it up the chain of command. I was fascinated by the Queen Elizabeth and wanted to have a crack at filming her. I wasn’t out to get anyone in trouble. What’s done is done, and I can’t undo the images I shot.”

“I think if the MoD were in any way bothered by this then these videos and stills would not have been allowed to see the light of day,” he added, The Telegraph reported.

An MoD spokesperson told The Telegraph: “We take the security of HMS Queen Elizabeth very seriously. This incident has been reported to Police Scotland, an investigation is underway and we stepped up our security measures in light of it.”