HMS Queen Elizabeth To Deploy Early Over Bad Weather

The Royal Navy's fleet flagship is now due to leave Portsmouth for her Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment on Saturday evening.

The Royal Navy's flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth will leave for her first operational deployment earlier than expected due to heavy winds forecast for the weekend.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier had been scheduled to leave Portsmouth on Sunday morning but further bad weather has led to the Navy changing the plan.

She is now expected to leave at around 21:30 UK time on Saturday night.

It will be the first time the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier has left the port at night, although the vessel has previously sailed into Portsmouth in the early hours.

A Ministry of Defence (MOD) spokesman explained that winds had to be taken into account because of the narrow entrance of Portsmouth Harbour as well as the dredged channels for the approaches from the Solent which were created specifically for the carriers.

"This is a standard response to a changing weather system," they said.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales at sea together pic 1 200521 CREDIT Crown Copyright
HMS Queen Elizabeth met at sea with her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales for the first time earlier this week (Picture: Crown Copyright).

HMS Queen Elizabeth's plan to deploy to the Solent had already been altered earlier in the week, when she was forced to make an unscheduled stop in Portsmouth after taking part in a major exercise off the coast of Scotland.

The £3 billion aircraft carrier had intended to carry out its final preparations for the deployment while in the Solent along with the other ships of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

However, she was brought back early from Exercise Strike Warrior to avoid the worst of the weather and most of the other CSG ships have stopped at Devonport until they regroup once the carrier has sailed again.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, with eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F35B stealth fighter jets on board, will depart for Asia accompanied by six British ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

The CSG, which will carry out visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, will include the US destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

A total of 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines are involved in the deployment which will cover 25,000 nautical miles.