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HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth for maiden operational tour

On the same day that HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed for her maiden operational deployment, the ship’s company welcomed Her Majesty The Queen who wished them well for their seven months at sea.

The Queen arrived by helicopter on the 280-metre flight deck, greeted by Commanding Officer, Captain Angus Essenhigh, and Commodore Stephen Moorhouse, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group.

She also met embarked personnel, British and American, who represent the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and United States Marine Corps.

HMS Queen Elizabeth then departed on Saturday evening shortly after USS The Sullivans. The US Navy destroyer is part of the strike group escorting the carrier through the Mediterranean and into the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Naval Base Commander, Commodore JJ Bailey ADC, said: “This is an extremely proud day for the city of Portsmouth and a really significant moment for us.

“We have been on a remarkable journey to build up the naval base, both the physical infrastructure and the people and processes in our Team Portsmouth approach, to enable us to project the Royal Navy across the world in the way that we are doing today.

“It’s taken many years for us to design and develop the naval base and its underpinning processes. It therefore comes to a moment like today which is a peak, but, of course, our work continues tomorrow on all the other operational outputs that the naval base will need to deliver.” 

Crowds in Portsmouth were not expecting to see the 65,000 carrier back in the harbour, but a planned spell at anchor before departure for international waters had to be changed due to extremely high winds making resupply by boat or helicopter impossible. More than 100 pallets of food and stores were loaded while she was in the base.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited HMS Queen Elizabeth on Friday; another landmark in a busy period for the naval base readying the strike group for deployment after a set of exercises off the Scottish coast to ready her, and her escorts, for operations.

Also in the strike group are destroyers HMS Diamond and Defender; frigates HMS Richmond and Kent; Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen, an Astute-class submarine; and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.


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