HMS Queen Elizabeth: Royal Navy's flagship carrier celebrates five years since being commissioned in Portsmouth

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IT HAS been five years since HMS Queen Elizabeth was first commissioned by the Royal Navy.

In December 2017, the navy’s new flagship vessel sailed into Portsmouth for the very first time, making her debut as the country’s largest and most powerful warship ever constructed.

As well as state-of-the-art weaponry and communications systems, HMS Queen Elizabeth boasts five gyms, a chapel, and a medical centre on board. She weighs a total of 65,000 tonnes and can travel at an impressive 25+ knots.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth returning to Portsmouth.

Picture: Sarah Standing (040620-3867)HMS Queen Elizabeth returning to Portsmouth.

Picture: Sarah Standing (040620-3867)
HMS Queen Elizabeth returning to Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (040620-3867)

Since her arrival, she has travelled the globe on many operations and exercises, showing the UK’s commitment to global leadership and cooperation. In 2019, she supported the NATO task group in Westlant19, a significant milestone for the ship which had Royal Navy and RAF jets embarked for the first time. The five-week exercise took place on the east coast of North America and was designed to put the F-35 jets and the carrier’s capabilities through their paces through a series of mission briefs, weapon drops, and much more.

In 2021, the flagship was at the heart of the Carrier Strike Group, a British led, self-contained force providing cutting- edge air, surface, and underwater defence. The seven-month deployment saw HMS Queen Elizabeth working alongside global allies and partners across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian oceans.

In between operations, HMS Queen Elizabeth is still as busy as ever. She has received over one million hours of contractor support at her home in Portsmouth Naval Base from the likes of BAE Systems, Babcock and Thales who have been instrumental in supporting maintenance and upgrading capabilities of the ship.

She has hosted major international events such as Atlantic Future Forum, a two-day summit where Royal Navy personnel were joined by political and industry leaders to discuss new ways of combatting global instability. The flagship was also the host of the official 40th anniversary commemorations of the Falklands conflict. The reception welcomed 200 veterans from across the armed forces, as well as members of the South Atlantic Medal Association and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.

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HMS Kent was back at the flagship’s side over the past month, providing vital protection from threats beneath the waves as F-35B Lightning jets and helicopters carried out flying operations from the 65,000-tonne carrier’s flight deck.

The frigate joined HMS Queen Elizabeth in Oslo for a high profile visit which underlined the UK and Norway’s enduring friendship – and is now back home in Portsmouth.

Commander Jez Brettell, commanding officer of HMS Kent, said: ‘This varied and busy deployment has demonstrated the characteristic ‘can do’ attitude of Kent’s ship’s company and I am very pleased with the ship’s positive impact to all tasking.

‘This period of leave is well-earned before another busy year in 2023.’

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According to the Royal Navy, HMS Kent’s sailors were kept fuelled with 6,000 eggs, 8,000 rashers of bacon and 470 loaves of bread consumed during their hectic schedule. HMS Kent will begin to work back up to full operations in January.

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