Hundreds watch HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail from Portsmouth

Farewell, Big Lizzie! Hundreds of wellwishers watch HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail from Portsmouth as £3bn aircraft carrier trains for first mission to the Med

  • The £3 billion warship took over the role of fleet flagship last year and will be at the centre of a strike group
  • She is set to return at the end of the month before taking a major role in war games along with Nato allies
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth set to return at the end of the month before taking a major role in war games in far east

Hundreds waved off Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth from Portsmouth as it sailed off for sea trials ahead of its first deployment this spring.

The £3 billion warship took over the role of fleet flagship in June and last year Boris Johnson confirmed she will be at the centre of a carrier strike group deployment to the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and east Asia.

She is set to return at the end of the month before taking a major role in war games in the far east.

Well wishers wave goodbye as HMS Queen Elizabeth departs from the Naval base. She is due to return at the end of the month

People sit waiting for the departure of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The carrier is the largest in Royal Navy history

The £3 billion warship took over the role of fleet flagship in June and last year Boris Johnson confirmed she will be at the centre of a carrier strike group deployment to the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and east Asia

Last month, following talks with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Japan welcomed the decision to send the carrier to the Indo-Pacific region amid growing tensions with China over navigation rights

Last month, following talks with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Japan welcomed the decision to send the carrier to the Indo-Pacific region amid growing tensions with China over navigation rights.

Mr Wallace said: ‘The most significant Royal Navy deployment in a generation demonstrates the UK’s commitment to working with our partners in the region to uphold the rules-based international system and promote our shared security and prosperity.’

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was part of the UK’s ’tilt’ towards the Indo-Pacific region following Brexit.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will embark with F-35B jets from 617 Squadron (the ‘Dambusters’) and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters, and will be escorted and supported by Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and support ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary

The carrier and its F-35B Lightning jets will also be complemented by a detachment of the stealth fighters from the US Marine Corps as well as a US Navy destroyer during the deployment

HMS Queen Elizabeth – named after 16th century monarch Elizabeth I – is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-Class of aircraft carriers. Its sister ship is HMS Prince of Wales

Members of the Navy stand on board at attention behind a naval flag. The ship is set for its first deployment in May

HMS Queen Elizabeth will embark with F-35B jets from 617 Squadron (the ‘Dambusters’) and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters, and will be escorted and supported by Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and support ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

The carrier and its F-35B Lightning jets will also be complemented by a detachment of the stealth fighters from the US Marine Corps as well as a US Navy destroyer during the deployment.

Along with its strike group, it will first take part in a war-fighting exercise with other Nato navies during Exercise Strike Warrior off Scotland in May before it departs for the Mediterranean.

Big Lizzie: The 930ft-long £3billion aircraft carrier which is the joint largest in Royal Navy history

HMS Queen Elizabeth – named after 16th century monarch Elizabeth I – is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth-Class of aircraft carriers. Its sister ship is HMS Prince of Wales.

The ships, which together cost more than £6billion, are the largest in the history of the Royal Navy. 

At 72,000 tons and 932 feet long, the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is taller than Nelson’s Column and considerably wider than the M25 at its widest point.

She generates enough energy to power Swindon, she can produce 500 tons of fresh water a day — and travel 500 miles a day, too.  

Last month, it was reported that flagship aircraft carrier will set out on its first operational mission with more US than British warplanes on board, under plans being examined by defence chiefs.

HMS Queen Elizabeth could deploy with as many as 20 US F-35 jets and just 16 UK F-35s under one scenario, defence sources told the Daily Mail.

The Ministry of Defence is expected to rely on US jets to fill a gap in numbers because it has been too slow to buy its own F-35s. 

The aircraft carrier is expected to set sail on its first deployment in May.

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