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Royal Navy Begins First Carrier Strike Group Deployment in Decades

royal navy
HMS Queen Elizabeth sails from Portsmouth (Royal Navy)

Published May 23, 2021 4:07 PM by The Maritime Executive

The new Royal Navy carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed from Portsmouth for her first operational deployment, accompanied by her escorts in the UK's first carrier strike group in a generation. Her Majesty The Queen was on hand for the vessel's farewell ceremony. 

The carrier recently completed an international training exercise to make sure that she and her escorts are prepared for a long-distance mission. The deployment will take them to Japan and back over the next seven-plus months. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth put into Portsmouth after sailing with sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, then left late on Saturday for her mission. Her Majesty came aboard to meet the ship’s company and bid them farewell. 

“HMS Queen Elizabeth, her escorts and her aircraft, will now begin the most important peacetime deployment in a generation," said Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the strike group's commander. “It is the privilege of my career to lead 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines from the United Kingdom, United States and the Netherlands for the next seven-and-a-half-months."

Image courtesy Royal Navy

The strike group will visit more than 40 countries - over one fifth of the world’s nations - including India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore in a deployment covering 26,000 nautical miles.

She will also join in exercises with French carrier FS Charles De Gaulle in the Mediterranean, allongside allied vessels from the US, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan and the UAE.

While in the Pacific, the strike group will mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the UK by taking part in Exercise Bersama Lima.

Joining HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden deployment are destroyers HMS Diamond and Defender; frigates HMS Richmond and Kent; Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS The Sullivans; a Royal Navy Astute-class submarine; and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring

More than 30 aircraft will also travel aboard, including F-35 fighter jets from the Royal Air Force and the US Marine Corps. Royal Marines from 42 Commando will also deploy with the carrier.