Once it is fully operational, HMS Queen Elizabeth will doubtless be the most heavily protected vessel in the Royal Navy . For now, however, it seems the 3bn pride of the British fleet is so lightly defended that a 300 drone can be landed for an unauthorised visit to the aircraft carrier s decks.
An amateur enthusiast has told how he overflew the largest and most expensive warship ever built for Britain s armed forces with his Parrot Bebop drone before briefly landing on its vast flight deck as it sat, apparently unmanned, on Cromarty Firth in the Scottish Highlands.
I suppose I could have been a Talibani or anything.
Unnamed pilot who landed drone on HMS Queen Elizabeth
The ability of a hobbyist to take a private and unchallenged remote-controlled tour of Big Lizzy will raise difficult questions about security surrounding the vessel as well as throwing into sharp relief the fact that the carrier will not have its own complement of aircraft for authorised take-offs and landings for several years to come.
The drone pilot, who asked not be named, posted footage on Facebook1 of a series of flights over the carrier while it was docked at Invergordon during ongoing sea trials before it is due to arrive at its new home port of Portsmouth as early as next week.
The enthusiast told the Inverness Courier: I was amazed that I was able to land on the aircraft carrier for two reasons, the first being that there was no-one to prevent it from landing, although there were security police around in small boats who were waving at the drone.
The amateur flier said he had been forced to land on the deck of the ship after a warning of high winds on the control panel of his drone.
He added: I expected the deck to be steel, which would send the drone s electronic landing systems haywire, but I was able to touch down OK and took a couple of shots . There was absolutely no-one around when I landed, it was like a ghost ship.
The 65,000-tonne flagship, one of two super-carriers being built for the Royal Navy, has not yet been formally handed over to the military as it continues to be fine tuned by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, the consortium that is building both vessels.
Trials with the carriers American-built F35B Lightning aircraft are due to begin next year but the Queen Elizabeth is not due to be fully operational until 2021.
The drone pilot said he had been so concerned about his visit to the carrier that he drove to the dockyard in an attempt to explain in person to the crew what he had been doing but was told there was no-one available because all personnel were ashore at dinner.
The hobbyist added: The ship has not been commissioned by the Royal Navy yet and doesn t have aircraft, so I don t think its defence systems that could block radio signals will be fully operational .
If they were, there would be no way I would get within a mile of this vessel.
But it is worth a lot of money and I suppose I could have been a Talibani or anything.
The incident is the latest security scare involving drones, which have been involved in multiple near misses with commercial jets landing at airports as well as criminal uses such as delivering drugs and weapons to prisons.
A Scottish MSP said he was considering tabling a question in the Edinburgh parliament about the incident.
Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone said: I think the moral of this astonishing tale is that there is a serious question about security for the Royal Navy for it would have been quite easy for someone of evil intent to do something quite serious . Even a drone crashing into its radar could cause damage.
The Ministry of Defence said it had tightened security on the carrier following the incident . An MOD spokesperson said: 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.
The director of the National Gallery insisted that security cuts have not placed priceless works of art at risk after a Gainsborough masterpiece was slashed by a visitor.
Dr Gabriele Finaldi said The Morning Walk, a 1785 painting by Thomas Gainsborough said to be worth at least 10m, would be back on public display as soon as possible.
Gallery conservationists are currently repairing the damage after a vandal used a sharp instrument, believed to be a drill bit, to make two long scratches on the work, on Saturday afternoon.
The perpetrator was apprehended with the help of visitors, triggering the evacuation of the East Wing of the central London gallery.
Reports suggested that the collection was more vulnerable to vandalism with gallery assistants or warders , required to guard two rooms, rather than one . Security was outsourced to the private company, Securitas, in 2015.
But Dr Finaldi said: I absolutely disagree . There has been no change in the way our operation has run in the gallery since we had contractors in.
He added: All our protocols worked exceptionally well . Security dealt with the incident extremely effectively and the public were kept safe . We have a very strict bag searching policy.
But inevitably as a result of this, and with such a precious collection, we will keep security under review.
The damage could have been worse . The scratches didn t go all the way through the canvas, Dr Finaldi told the i . It is relatively straightforward to deal with.
We are consolidating the pigment which has been lifted as a result of these scratches and repairing the damage .
I m confident we can get it back on public display quickly.
The incident was shocking for those in the gallery, said the director, who praised the members of the public and police who helped staff apprehend the vandal.
The new Gallery B opens to the public on Wednesday (photo National Gallery)
The Morning Walk depicts a wealthy young couple, Mr and Mrs William Hallett, both 21, strolling through woodland.
It formed the backdrop to a scene in the James Bond film Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, which takes place in the Gallery s Room 34.
Keith Gregory, 63, of no fixed address, was appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on Monday charged with causing criminal damage.
A unique display of paintings by the Flemish artist Rubens, hung opposite works by his Dutch counterpart, Rembrandt, will launch the first new exhibition space created at the National Gallery in 26 years.
Rubens and Rembrandt display in New Gallery B National Gallery, London
Gallery B, which opens to the public on Wednesday, will add an additional 200 square metres of display space to the ground floor.
The inaugural free show, Rubens and Rembrandt , creates a dynamic visual dialogue between the two great 17th-century masters.
Though the pair probably never met in person, their works will meet face-to-face, hung on opposing walls in the show designed to illuminate connections and contrasts between the artists.
The show feature nine works by Rubens and 11 paintings by Rembrandt, who was influenced by the older Flemish artist, from the National Gallery s extensive collection of Dutch and Flemish art.
Alongside the launch of the 1m Gallery B, Gallery A, previously open every Wednesday afternoon and one Sunday per month, will now be open to the public daily.
Visitors can now explore all of the Ground Floor Galleries and progress up to the Main Floor whilst enjoying a continuous viewing experience, the Gallery said.
The last new display space to open at the Gallery was the Sainsbury Wing in 1991.
Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan has fired his top security chief following Wednesday s altercation between former New York Knicks1 star Charles Oakley and arena security personnel during a game at the famed Manhattan arena. Frank Benedetto, the senior vice president for security at the Madison Square Garden Company, was fired on Friday morning, a source told DNAinfo New York2. Oakley was arrested during the first quarter of Wednesday s game against the Los Angeles Clippers after a clash in the stands with arena security personnel near Dolan, who owns the Knicks.
The 53-year-old shoved security guards before they pulled him away from his seat behind the baseline . Fans chanted Oakley ! Oakley ! in support of the beloved power forward, who played for the Knicks from 1988-98 and helped them reach the 1994 NBA3 finals, but has had a poor relationship with the team because of his criticism of Dolan. The NYPD said Oakley was arrested on three counts of assault, all third degree . Police gave him a summons for a desk appearance at a later date.
Charles Oakley came to the game tonight and behaved in a highly inappropriate and completely abusive manner, the Knicks said in a statement issued the night of the game . He has been ejected and is currently being arrested by the New York City police department .
He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon. Oakley said during an ESPN Radio interview on Thursday that he had been in his seat for just a few minutes when he was surrounded by security, denying that they approached him after he shouted at Dolan.
Now I m four rows from this guy, so I m going to walk in this place and just start hollering, James Dolan ! James Dolan ! I mean, that s embarrassing, man . I did not do none of that, Oakley said . I didn t know the man was sitting in front of me at first until they walked over there.
Oakley said he has been told that Dolan must be informed by security whenever he is in the arena, and that MSG staff follow him when he leaves his seat to go the bathroom. But the Knicks said he was causing trouble Wednesday even before security reached his seat.
There are dozens of security staff, employees and NYPD that witnessed Oakley s abusive behavior, the team said in a statement . It started when he entered the building and continued until he was arrested and left the building . Every single statement we have received is consistent in describing his actions . Everything he said since the incident is pure fiction.
The 6ft 8in Oakley was a rugged enforcer openly appreciated by teammates, from Michael Jordan in Chicago to Patrick Ewing in New York, and he remains respected by current players. LeBron James4 and Dwyane Wade5 posted pictures of Oakley on their Instagram pages, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers said it was difficult watching his former Knicks teammate being dragged away and handcuffed during the first quarter of Wednesday s game.
Listen, he was my teammate and he was a great teammate, Rivers said . I don t know what happened . Obviously they had to do what they had to do . They were in the right . Security has to do what they have to do . But at the end of the day it s still your teammate .
So that was tough.