Tearful goodbyes as HMS Queen Elizabeth sets sail from Portsmouth
THOUSANDS of teary-eyed farewells were made in Portsmouth this weekend as HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail for a seven month deployment.
On Saturday afternoon, the loved ones of Royal Navy personnel gathered in Old Portsmouth to say farewell to the 65,000-tonne carrier.
The ship has left Portsmouth Harbour alongside sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, plus HMS Diamond, HMS Kent and HMS Defender, to form the a Carrier Strike Group, designated CSG21.
At sea, they will be joined by US destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.
Marjorie and Richard MacGillivray, from Cowplain, watched their son Gareth set sail on board the carrier.
The couple were joined by his partner Cat Houston to wave him off.
Cat said: ‘We have been together for three years, and it is so nice to see him doing what he wants.
‘I’m really proud of him and everything he has achieved.’
Marjorie added: ‘We never got to see his passing out ceremony, so this is the first naval thing we have seen him do.
‘It makes us all feel really proud – and seeing HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time was incredible too, it’s such an impressive warship.’
For Gareth, an Able Rating, this will be his second deployment. His family has a deep military history, but he is also the first to have joined the Royal Navy, said father Richard.
The carrier’s deployment will be the first time out at sea for Alex Flanagan, a marine engineer.
His parents Mike and Kate, who travelled down to Portsmouth from Warrington, Cheshire, say their young son has made them incredibly proud.
Mike said: ‘He’s been in the Royal Navy since January 2016, but this is his first time out at sea.
‘We had a little party for him before he left, but we still wanted to come down and see him off.’
Kate added: ‘It’s certainly a sad moment, watching him head out and knowing he’s not coming back for some time, but we are so incredibly proud of him for serving his country like this.’
HMS Queen Elizabeth will be leading CSG21 as she heads to the far East.
A squadron of 10 US Marine Corps F-35B fighter jets will be joining her over the coming days.