Navy

HMS Queen Elizabeth Sets Sail For Maiden Deployment

The £3.2bn aircraft carrier will lead the UK Carrier Strike Group on the Royal Navy's largest deployment in more than a decade.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has set sail from Portsmouth to take part in a major exercise, followed by her maiden deployment.

Following Exercise Strike Warrior off the coast of Scotland, the £3.2bn aircraft carrier will lead the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG 21) on the Royal Navy's largest deployment in more than a decade.

Well-wishers waved off the vessel as she departed Portsmouth on Saturday.

After the completion of Strike Warrior, the vessel and her Carrier Strike Group will head south through the Atlantic with a stop-off expected in Gibraltar before heading into the Mediterranean.

The group will visit more than a fifth of the world's nations over 28 weeks.

One thousand seven hundred personnel will be living and working on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, 250 of those are from the US.

Joining the aircraft carrier are six frigates and destroyers, two Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships, an Astute-class submarine, 18 F-35 fighter jets and 14 naval helicopters which arrived ahead of deployment.

The Strike Group will visit 40 countries in total, with the journey through the South China Sea potentially causing some issues.

WATCH: Well wishers gather in Portsmouth to wave off the carrier on Saturday.

HMS Albion conducted a freedom of navigation exercise there in 2018 which led to China accusing the UK of entering its waters without permission.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, told Forces News this week: "There are disputed waters everywhere. We'll be ready for anything.

"The plan that you sail with is rarely the plan you undertake.

"It's one of the things we'll embed in the young sailors in their training and we're looking forward to it. It should be a fantastic opportunity."

As well as having American personnel on board, 10 of the 18 F-35s jets belong to the US.