HMS Queen Elizabeth has been regularly seen coming and going from Portsmouth since her inaugural arrival in 2017, but yesterday (Saturday) her departure was somewhat special as the flagship of the Royal Navy left the Solent at the start of her first operational deployment.
The aircraft carrier dominated the horizon as she passed the Round Towner and set off down the eastern Solent at the start of what will become a 6-month deployment.
HMS Defender, HMS Diamond and HMS Kent also sailed from Pompey yesterday afternoon.
Before heading through to the Mediterranean and then he Indo-Pacific region, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be put through her paces off the coast of Scotland as part of Exercise Strike Warrior. 11 nations will come together with more than 20 warships and 3 submarines for a major test of the military power.
As part of the Carrier Strike Group, the aircraft carrier will be accompanied by 6 Royal Navy warships, a submarine and no less than 14 helicopters as she visits 40 different countries and covers in excess of 26,000 nautical miles. She is carrying 18 F35-B fighter jets on board too.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Fort Victoria and Tidespring will keep the Strike Group supplied with fuel, food, stores and ammunition.
It is hoped that the ship and her company will be back in time for Christmas.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, has said:
“The advent of the UK Carrier Strike Group represents a substantial new injection of fifth generation combat power into the defence of the Euro-Atlantic region.
“It is therefore fitting that our final and most demanding test prior to deployment involves so many of Britain’s allies.
“As the ships and aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group assemble over the coming days, Exercise Strike Warrior is an opportunity prove to ourselves, and to the world, that we have what it takes to act as cohesive and potent fighting force at sea, under the water, in the air and over the land.”