Stowaway pigeon chicks found on HMS Queen Elizabeth flown back to Britain during maiden voyage

Harry Farley
The two chicks were treated to some of the most advanced technology the Royal Navy has after being flown back in a MK4 Merlin helicopter. - PA

Two baby pigeons stowed away aboard the Royal Navy's largest warship have been nursed back to health after being found stranded hours into an 11-week deployment to America.

Sailors aboard the 65,000 tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth discovered the 10-day-old chicks huddled together on a remote ledge above the boat decks. 

Crew members had to look up "what baby pigeons eat" before feeding the birds porridge and warm water using a syringe from the ship's medical centre. 

A navy spokesman said: "A careful rescue plan was put in place and the chicks were brought into the warmth by sailors from the ship's seamanship department."

He added: "The chicks' beaks eagerly popped through a hole in the tip, hungrily sucking the porridge out, emulating the way they feed from their parents." 

HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth Harbour on Saturday for an 11-week expedition and the chicks were found while the ship was in the English Channel. Credit: Shaun Roster/SWNS-Cambridge

The motherless birds were then flown ashore when the ship was still in the English Channel using some of the most advanced military technology available. 

The pair, nicknamed "carrier pigeons" by the crew, were taken to Somerset using a recently developed navy Merlin MK4 helicopter, which was making a planned trip to RNAS Yeovilton. They are now being cared for by the RSPCA. 

Lieutenant Commander Lindsey Waudby said: "While our focus for the deployment is getting the new jets onboard for the first time, we are also prepared to conduct humanitarian relief, should we be called upon to do so - we just didn't think that would be quite so soon."

HMS Queen Elizabeth set off from Portsmouth on Saturday for nearly three months of trials on the east coast of America.

The two birds were named F-35 and Lightning after the fighter jets which are to be tested during the ship's deployment. Around 500 take offs and landings are expected over the 11-week trip designed to test the ship's performance.