HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth with tugs 151020 CREDIT BFBS 3
Sea vessels

HMS Queen Elizabeth Is The Navy's New Fleet Flagship

The aircraft carrier takes over in the role from HMS Albion.

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth with tugs 151020 CREDIT BFBS 3

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the new fleet flagship of the Royal Navy, taking over duties from HMS Albion.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, the Navy's largest and most powerful vessel, is due to lead a UK Carrier Strike Group deployment later this year.

Royal Navy ships and shore establishments were informed of the announcement by a signal at 13:30 this afternoon.

Tweeting about the fleet flagship role change, HMS Albion said her crew had executed the duty "with great pride" since March 2018.

"This marks a new era for the Royal Navy and Global Britain," a tweet by HMS Albion read.

In the new position as the fleet's principal ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth will carry senior naval staff, receive foreign dignitaries, and act as a command and control centre for the Royal Navy.

The transfer of the role was marked by Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd being received on the aircraft carrier.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, said: "The position of Fleet Flagship is a symbol of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s importance to the nation, not just in restoring our carrier strike capability, but as a rolling statement of British commitment to global security, prosperity and trade.

"It’s right that we bestow such a historic title now.

"In the coming months HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead the most ambitious Royal Navy deployment in decades.

"She will be a focal point as we look forward to an extraordinary year."

HMS Queen Elizabeth's commanding officer, Captain Angus Essenhigh, said it was a "fantastic privilege" for the aircraft carrier to become fleet flagship.

HMS Queen Elizabeth during Exercise Joint Warrior surrounded by other vessels as Carrier Strike Group forms 051020 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY 2
HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a Carrier Strike Group deployment in 2021 (Picture: Royal Navy).

When the warship leads the UK's Carrier Strike Group deployment in 2021, she will be joined by British F-35Bs, American military hardware, plus US Marine Corps and US Navy personnel.

A detachment of American F-35B Lightning aircraft and US Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans will also be present.

Queen Elizabeth will first take part in Exercise Strike Warrior in a few months' time off the Scottish coast, before heading to the Mediterranean for her Carrier Strike Group deployment.

In December, the Carrier Strike programme achieved initial Operating Capability, following several multi-national exercises throughout 2020.

The Carrier Strike Group assembled for the first time last October, exercising alongside allied nations in the North Sea during NATO's Exercise Joint Warrior.