Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth set to leave Portsmouth after four-month stay
HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to leave the city for training ahead of its first active deployment later this year.
The £3bn aircraft carrier will depart her home in Portsmouth Naval base on tomorrow at 1pm, according to the Queen’s Harbour Master.
It’s the first time the Royal Navy’s flagship has left the city after returning from sea trials last October.
She is expected to undertake an additional series of sea trials in order to prepare for her first active deployment.
Reported to begin in May, the deployment will see the carrier and her escort patrol the the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia-Pacific region.
Last week, the prime minister Boris Johnson highlighted the strategic importance of her upcoming mission.
Speaking to an international security conference, the prime minister said: ‘On her flight deck will be a squadron of F-35 jets from the US Marine Corps; among her escorts will be an American destroyer, showing how the British and American armed forces can operate hand-in-glove - or plane-on-flightdeck - anywhere in the world.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth will be at the the centre of the UK Carrier Strike Group, including two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria.
HMS Defender, one of the two Type 45 destroyers making up the group, left Portsmouth for sea trials on Friday.
Earlier this month, the aircraft carrier tackled a two-week-long series of virtual simulations, named Virtual Warrior, to prepare her 1,700-strong crew for a variety of challenging scenarios.
The 65,000 tonne warship’s last sailing from Portsmouth in September was delayed several times due to a Covid-19 outbreak onboard and inclement weather.
Her departure on Monday is subject to change and is weather-dependent.