Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth earmarked for Greek independence party
THE Royal Navy’s £3.2bn flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth will help Greece celebrate its independence anniversary this year, reports have claimed.
Greek news site Kathimerini claimed the mighty 65,000-tonne warship will anchor at Souda Bay – about 100 miles south of the Greek capital of Athens – in June.
The Ministry of Defence could not confirm, yet, whether Queen Elizabeth and her task group would make the pit-stop during its maiden operational mission this year.
However, local media said the vessel had been earmarked to join the 200th anniversary celebrations marking the Greek War of Independence - and that the Portsmouth-based vessel was also on a trade mission ‘related to British interest to sell Type 31 frigates to the Greek Navy’.
Speaking to The News, a Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘The Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment will undertake a series of Nato maritime missions in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. We look forward to developing those plans with Nato allies over the coming months.’
Queen Elizabeth is the first of two new aircraft carriers which are the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy.
She will be setting sail from Portsmouth in May, where she will join forces with a floating vanguard of other warships and support vessels that form her carrier strike group.
Made up of two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a British hunter-killer submarine, two Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships and a destroyer from the US Navy, the flotilla has been hailed as the Europe’s most power naval group.
Queen Elizabeth is expected to sail to the Mediterranean before heading to the Gulf and then out to the Indo-Pacific.
Although not yet confirmed, it is expected the vessel will stop at Japan and join drills with allied nations in the region.
And it is anticipated that Queen Elizabeth could visit the South China Sea, a vast expanse of contested waterway.
Speaking last week, First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin said the exact route of the task group was still being worked on.
‘This is about trade, as well as security, and it’s definitely about partners and allies,’ he said during an live-stream interview on Twitter.
His comments came as an experienced naval officer warned Chinese submarines and attack jets will ‘almost certainly’ seek to ‘cause mischief’ when Queen Elizabeth visit the Pacific.
‘Our task group will need to be alert to this the whole time,’ retired Commander Tom Sharpe told a panel of defence experts during a debate staged by the Henry Jackson Society.