Watching the carrier strike made me so proud of our Royal Navy | Flick Drummond MP

I was incredibly proud to see HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail at the head of a Carrier Strike Group on a six-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region that will visit 40 countries.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 11:24 am
HMS Queen Elizabeth and the UK Carrier Strike Group joined ships from NATO Standing Maritime Groups One and Two for an impressive display of maritime power in the Eastern Atlantic on 28 May 2021. The rendezvous was part of Steadfast Defender 21, a large scale defensive exercise designed to test NATO’s ability to rapidly deploy forces from North America to the coast of Portugal and the Black Sea region.

It was a boost for the Royal Navy to have The Queen visit before the aircraft carrier set sail.

Meon Valley, just like the wider Portsmouth area, has a deep affinity with the Royal Navy and I know this part of Hampshire, just like the rest of the UK, will be interested in how the voyage takes shape.

This is a good way for the UK to project its power and influence in an important part of the world. It will foster goodwill, strengthen vital alliances and showcase what the UK can achieve. It will also remind those we do not always agree with that Britain is prepared to show it will stand up for the rules-based system all the world needs to embrace.

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The fleet comprises six Royal Navy ships and a submarine and it will sail through the Mediterranean to the Red Sea then from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean to the Philippine Sea.

Onboard will be eight new RAF F35B stealth fighter jets, helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

There is also an international component with 10 US Marine Corps F35B Lightning II jets onboard the carrier. The Royal Navy ships will be accompanied by the US destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen. I wish all personnel a safe journey.

The UK’s vaccination drive continues to protect the nation. We are right to be cautious about emerging new variants but we are not the same place as we were when the second wave struck.

The vaccines work and 25m people have had both jabs. Those aged over 30 have been called forward for their first jab and the government is looking to have all over 50s given their second jab by June 21 so that the final part of the roadmap can be activated. Every adult should have had at least one jab by July 31. This is a tremendous achievement and real-world data show these jabs break the link between infection and serious illness and hospitalisation.