Who is HMS Queen Elizabeth's captain? Meet the Royal Navy aircraft carrier's commanding officer Captain Angus Essenhigh

HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to leave for her first operational mission next year – and she has her commanding officer in charge.

By Kieran Davey
Tuesday, 1st September 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 2:06 pm

It followed the sacking of Commodore Nick-Cooke Priest – who had taken over from Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd - and the promotion of Commodore Steve Moorhouse earlier this year.

Captain Essenhigh joined the navy in 1992 and since then has taken charge of some of its smallest boats – but he is now at the helm of the 65,000-tonne behemoth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth returning to her home port of Portsmouth 2nd July 2020. Picture: Bryan Moffat

Here is everything you need to know about HMS Queen Elizabeth’s captain:

Who is Captain Angus Essenhigh?

After joining the Royal Navy, Captain Essenhigh went on to earn a degree in French, Russian and philosophy from Durham University.

His early naval service included seagoing assignments in minesweepers, frigates and a role as navigating officer of an American destroyer.

Captain Angus Essenhigh, commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth Picture: Sarah Standing (020720-877)

He returned to the UK in 2002 to command two P2000 patrol boats; the first attached to Oxford University Royal Naval Unit and the second based in Cyprus as part of Operation Telic – the British codename used for the war in Iraq.

In 2006 he joined the ranks of HMS Kent after qualifying as a principal warfare officer, and completed a six-month deployment to the Gulf in support of Op Telic.

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Roles working as an air warfare officer on £1bn destroyer HMS Daring followed before he assumed command of both Mine Counter Measures 1 Crew 2 in May 2010 where he commanded three minehunters - including a seven-month stint on HMS Pembroke in the Gulf.

The towers of HMS Prince of Wales (left) and HMS Queen Elizabeth (right). Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images

In 2012, he took command of his old ship, Daring, tackling a nine-month global tour before being promoted to Captain in 2016.

He assumed command of ice patrol ship, HMS Protector, working two seasons in and around Antarctica.

What did he say about his appointment?

Speaking in January Captain Essenhigh said: ‘It’s a huge honour to take command of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest and most complex platform the Royal Navy has ever built.

‘I join at an exciting time for the ship following a very successful operational test deployment with UK F-35 off the east coast of the USA last year, and as she continues her development towards the first operational deployment in 2021.’

When will HMS Queen Elizabeth enter active service?

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to begin operational missions in 2021.

The £3.1 billion carrier is expected to make her way from Portsmouth early next year, heading to the Mediterranean and Gulf before heading to the Far East.

When she embarks on her lengthy voyage, she will carry two squadrons of F-35B Lightning II stealth combat jets – one from American and one from the UK – and will be shadowed by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, two tankers and helicopters.

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