HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Thursday for an historic first visit.
The aircraft carrier is spearheading a Carrier Strike Group on deployment ‘Westlant 19’.
Destroyer HMS Dragon soon joined Queen Elizabeth in Halifax alongside tanker RFA Tideforce, offering the latest re-fuelling capabilities at sea.
The warship will join operational tests off the east coast of the United States, collaborating with UK F-35B Lightning fighter jets for the first time.
HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth for a two-week trip across the Atlantic, with Royal Marines of 42 Commando practising ‘vertical assaults’ to the flight deck from Merlin helicopters, before stopping in Canada as a sign of solidarity.
Rear Admiral Craig Baines, the Royal Canadian Navy's Commander of the Maritime Forces Atlantic, welcomed the vessel to Halifax Harbour: “We recognize that our city has a unique place in the heart of the Royal Navy and this week’s visit represents a meeting of the old and the new - emphasising the Royal Navy’s historical ties to one of Canada’s oldest ports and providing the opportunity for the Royal Navy to showcase their newest capability.”
When they return to the sea, the group will be joined by frigate HMS Northumberland - currently part of Exercise Cutlass Fury.
Commodore Mike Utley, who leads the Carrier Strike Group, was “delighted” to bring the Royal Navy’s future Fleet Flagship to the NATO partners.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and her carrier strike group will deploy operationally for the first time in 2021, with both UK and USMC squadrons embarked - soon to be bolstered by seven F-35 jets.
Cover image: The 65,000-tonne ship in action (Picture: Royal Navy).