When will Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth deploy and where will she go?

BRITAIN’S biggest warship ever built is gearing up for a landmark year as she deploys on her first operational mission.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 5:00 pm

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the newly-announced flagship of the Royal Navy, will be setting sail for the Pacific during her first official active tour of duty.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace said the £3.2bn warship’s mission would be a huge moment for the Royal Navy – and for Britain.

‘The most significant Royal Navy deployment in a generation demonstrates the UK’s commitment to working with our partners in the region to uphold the rules-based international system and promote our shared security and prosperity,’ he said earlier this month.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth pictured with F-35s on her flight deck and HMS Dragon in the background. Photo: Royal Navy

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Here is everything you need to know about HMS Queen Elizabeth ahead of her maiden mission.

When will HMS Queen Elizabeth leave Portsmouth?

It’s the question on the lips of most naval enthusiasts.

An F-35B Lightning jet lands on HMS Queen Elizabeth as she sails closely with tanker RFA Tideforce and Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland. This image was part of the Peregrine Trophy winning selection from HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture by Leading Photographer Kyle Heller.

But at the moment, there is no exact date in the diary as to when the ship will leave her home city.

However, most sources seem to point at the occasion taking place some time in May.

Which ships will be part of the carrier strike group?

Pictured: A Merlin Mk4 From 845 Naval Air Squadron takes off as an F-35 prepares to launch from HMS Queen Elizabeth's flight deck.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be deploying with Europe’s largest, most powerful taskforce of warships.

The flotilla is manned almost exclusive by British personnel, in one of the biggest naval missions for the UK in recent memory.

More than 2,000 British personnel are expected to take part in the operation.

At the forefront will be HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will have two embarked squadrons of F-35B stealth jets on board – one British and one American.

The UK's carrier strike group pictured together during an exercise in October 2020. Photo: Royal Navy

Flanking the ship will be two of the Royal Navy’s £1bn-a-piece Type 45 destroyers from Portsmouth, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond.

The state-of-the-art warships will protect the carrier group from air attack.

Accompanying them will be two Type 23 frigates, HMS Kent and HMS Northumberland.

The submarine-hunting frigates will protect the group underwater threats.

American warship USS The Sullivans will also join the group, as its third destroyer.

While it is expected a British hunter-killer submarine will shadow the fleet from under the waves.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has embarked with squadrons of F-35B stealth jets

Lastly two support tankers from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, RFA Tideforce, RFA Fort Victoria, will keep the carrier strike group fuelled and supplied.

Where will Queen Elizabeth go on her deployment?

The aircraft carrier’s mission will see her travel to the other side of the globe.

The exact details of her deployment aren’t yet known.

However, it is expected the vessel will first head towards the Mediterranean.

Royal Navy ships often make a stop at Gibraltar during trips to the Med, so it is anticipated Queen Elizabeth will visit the British overseas territory – which would follow a previous stop in February, 2018.

From her the task group is expected to visit the Gulf before heading east of the Suez, towards the Indo-Pacific region.

Reports suggest that Queen Elizabeth will visit the disputed South China Sea – although there has been no official confirmation of this by the government,

However, the vast stretch territory has been at the heart of a row over navigational freedom rights.

China claims the region is part of its sovereignty – a claim disputed by the West and other countries in the area.

This month saw British and Japanese officials unite in a new defence arrangement to strengthen military ties between the two nations.

It is possible that Queen Elizabeth might follow in the footsteps of the Royal Navy’s previous flagship, HMS Albion, which visited Tokyo in 2018.

If so, it would be the fifth British warship to visit the Land of the Rising Sun since 2018.

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