HMS Queen Elizabeth: Royal Navy aircraft carrier gets third new captain in less than a year

EIGHTEEN years ago he was in command of some of the Royal Navy’s smallest boats.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 2:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 3:48 pm

Now, Captain Angus Essenhigh has been appointed as the next commanding officer of Britain’s largest warship ever built, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The naval leader is the fourth commander to take charge of the mighty aircraft carrier – and her third in eight months following the sacking of Commodore Nick-Cooke Priest and the promotion of Commodore Steve Moorhouse last week.

Weighing in at 65,000 tonnes, the gargantuan warship is 1,203 times heavier than the 54-tonne P2000s Captain Essenhigh commanded in 2002 – and more than 12 times longer.

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The new CO was welcomed on board his ship in Portsmouth today by his new crew.

Speaking of his appointment, Captain Essenhigh said: ‘It’s a huge honour to take command of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest and most complex platform the Royal Navy has ever built.

‘I join at an exciting time for the ship following a very successful operational test deployment with UK F-35 off the east coast of the USA last year, and as she continues her development towards the first operational deployment in 2021.’

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Captain Angus Essenhigh has become the fourth commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Here is pictured on the ship's flight deck with an F-35B stealth jet behind him. Photo: Royal Navy.

Capt Essenhigh joined the Royal Navy in 1992 and went on to earn a degree in French, Russian and philosophy from Durham University.

Seagoing assignments in minesweepers, frigates and as the navigating officer of an American destroyer followed.

Upon returning to the UK in 2002 he commanded two P2000 patrol boats; the first attached to Oxford University Royal Naval Unit and the second based in Cyprus as part of Operation Telic – the British codename used for the war in Iraq.

Qualifying as a principal warfare officer in 2006 he joined HMS Kent, completing a six-month deployment to the Gulf in support of Op Telic.

Pictured: Commodore Steve Moorhouse OBE, greets the new commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Angus Essenhigh. Photo: LPhot Ben Corbett

Roles working as an air warfare officer on £1bn destroyer HMS Daring followed before he assumed command of both Mine Counter Measures 1 Crew 2 in May 2010 where he commanded three mine hunters including a seven-month stint on HMS Pembroke in the Gulf.

In 2012, he took command of his old ship, Daring, tackling a nine-month global tour before being promoted to Captain in 2016 and assuming command of ice patrol ship, HMS Protector, working two seasons in and around Antarctica.

Queen Elizabeth is now ramping up for her third series of flight trials with the F-35B stealth jets, set to take place later this year off the British coast.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse OBE, greets the new commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Captain Angus Essenhigh as he enters the ship for the first time as its commander. Photo: LPhot Ben Corbett

The £3.1bn warship is expected to conduct her maiden operational deployment in 2021 which will see her operating in the Mediterranean, Pacific and South China Sea region.

HMS Queen Elizabeth ship's company line up to see Commodore Steve Moorhouse leave as their commanding officer. Photo: LPhot Unaisi Luke