Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth woos the Japanese as she joins major military drill in the Pacific
AIRCRAFT carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has flexed her muscles at sea once more after wooing Japanese officials and schoolchildren during an historic stop to the Land of the Rising Sun.
The £3.2bn warship became the first non-American aircraft carrier to visit the port at Yokosuka in almost 30 years, cutting an impressive sight as she arrived at the military establishment.
The visit to Japan was hailed by the leader of the UK’s carrier strike group, Commodore Steven Moorhouse as ‘the cornerstone’ of her epic odyssey to the Orient.
And in a display of military might and increased co-operation between the UK and Japan, Portsmouth-based Queen Elizabeth led a three-day military drill at sea.
The British flagship was joined by Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender, Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Tidespring and Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen for the training with Canadian ship HMCS Winnipeg and Japanese ships JS Ise and JS Izumo.
Exercise Pacific Crown saw F-35B stealth fighters embarked on Queen Elizabeth perform a flypast with the Japanese F-35A variant of the jets while the ships conducted close-manoeuvring training.
Cdre Moorhouse said: ‘Our visit to Japan is seen as a cornerstone of this deployment and a demonstration of the UK commitment to investing in our partnership with Japan.
‘UK and Japanese vessels are working together in Exercise Pacific Crown, demonstrating our shared resolve, deepening our co-operation and enhancing the interoperability between our armed forces.
‘These joint exercises help us to develop our tactics and procedures to allow us to pursue increasingly complex and integrated co-operation.’
He added: ‘UK and Japan have a shared recognition of the importance of an open and free Indo-Pacific, which is why I am delighted to be here, bringing our cutting-edge capabilities to work alongside those of our Japanese partners to uphold peace and security in the region.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Yokosuka marked the first time a non-US aircraft carrier has visited the base since 1992.
While there, the ships hosted British ambassador to Japan Julia Longbottom along with the fleet commander of US 7th Fleet, Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, who visited members of the US Marine Corps embarked on board.
The next three days saw the ship host Japanese defence minister Nobuo Kishi who came on board with senior military figures from the Japan Self-Defense Force.
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He said: ‘It was the greatest honor to get on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. Japan and the UK share universal values such as democracy and the rule of law and also strategic benefits.’
Earlier, crew from HMS Queen Elizabeth answered questions about the ship from curious Japanese schoolchildren.
Youngster quizzed the ship’s company on the ‘coolest’ parts of the carrier, how sailors keep fit, the F-35 stealth jets and whether the crew enjoyed karaoke - an activity that is beloved by the Japanese.
The final visits saw leaders from Japanese industries including directors and leaders from Nissan, Mitsibushi, Kawasaki, Tokyo Gas, Hitachi and Barclays.