'Grey dwarf' as patrol boats are overshadowed by HMS Queen Elizabeth

Two of the smallest vessels in the Royal Navy were positively dwarfed by the largest, brand-new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth when they paid a fleeting visit to her in the Moray Firth.

Patrol boats HMS Dasher and Pursuer are 1,200 times smaller - by displacement - than the future flagship, which is on her third week of sea trials in the North Sea.

Just 54 tonnes each, the 68ft craft carry just five crew and around a dozen students from universities around the UK, giving them a three-year sample of life in the Royal Navy.

They're barely half the width of the carrier - 128ft across at the waterline, nearly 240ft on the vast flight deck - and even at full pelt (21 knots or 24mph) cannot keep up with Queen Elizabeth which can reach 25 knots flat out.

Dasher which serves Bristol's universities and Pursuer (Glasgow and Strathclyde) were heading for Orkney and commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the loss of WW1 battleship HMS Vanguard.

This presented an opportunity to make a little bit of history that simply could not be missed by the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron

Lieutenant Andrew Osborne, Commanding Officer of HMS Dasher

As they neared Invergordon, the duo found the 65,000-tonne leviathan waiting for the tide before entering the one-time naval base to take on fuel and supplies.

"This presented an opportunity to make a little bit of history that simply could not be missed by the 1st Patrol Boat Squadron," said Lieutenant Andrew Osborne, Dasher's Commanding Officer.

"In company with Pursuer 50 yards on the beam closing at 20kts, the carrier presented a quite formidable sight. We were fortunate enough to be cleared to close and berth alongside her stern platform, the very first Royal Navy vessel to do so."

That stern platform where the two P2000 patrol boats berthed will be heavily used when the ship is at anchor; it's the main way of getting crew on and off via specially-built passenger launches.

Andrew and Pursuer's skipper Lieutenant Thomas Parsons paid their respects to Queen Elizabeth's first Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd, while their crews and students enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of the carrier.

"The sheer scale of the flight deck and hangar impressed everyone without exception as did the vantage point from the bridge," said Andrew.

The sightseeing was cut short by the need to clear the ship ready for flying operations and the arrival of a Merlin helicopter from 820 NAS, the squadron permanently assigned to HMS Queen Elizabeth to protect her from submarine/surface attacks and ferry equipment and personnel aboard.

Dasher and Pursuer aren't the smallest vessels in the Navy to visit Queen Elizabeth; even smaller HMS Gleaner (48½ft long, a tiny 22 tonnes) called in at Rosyth last year as part of work surveying the waters of the Forth to ensure the carrier would be able to exit the dockyard safely.