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HMS Queen Elizabeth completes one of the narrowest harbour entries in her history

22 November 2022
HMS Queen Elizabeth completed one of the narrowest harbour entries in her lifetime as she arrived in Oslo after F-35B flying operations in the North Sea.

The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier was carefully navigated through the tight waterways leading to Norway’s capital as her European security mission continues.

The 60-mile journey through Oslo fjord from the Skagerrak (the strait running between the coasts of Denmark, Norway and Sweden) saw the UK’s flagship carefully maneuvered through the Drøbak Sound – which is about 1000m or nine football pitches wide and 11 miles long – into the inner fjord.

Once her journey through the fjord was completed, with ice and snow starting to cover her vast flight deck, the UK’s flagship berthed near the historic Akerbus fortress – about a 15-minute walk to the heart of the city.

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s three-day stop in Oslo – the first time she has visited Norway’s capital – is seen as a big moment between two close NATO allies and already the ship has welcomed high profile Norwegian figures, a welcome fitting her status.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre came aboard on Monday night and was hosted by Commodore Angus Essenhigh, the commander of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group. 

The PM – who was pleased to be back on the bridge of a warship having completed naval officer training at the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy in Bergen in 1979-81 – was presented with a British flag and held a press conference on board with Norwegian media, as the UK and Norway underscore their strong alliance and friendship.

Joining the ship for entry into Oslo were Norwegian Chief of Defence, General Erik Kristoffersen and the Chief of the Norwegian Navy, Rear Admiral Rune Andersen, British Ambassador to Norway Richard Wood and UK Defence Attaché Lieutenant Colonel Richard Parvin Royal Marines.

HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth earlier this month and has since been operating in the North Sea as part of Operation Achillean – the Royal Navy’s European security mission this autumn, which also includes a task group headed by HMS Albion in the Mediterranean.

Around the aircraft carrier is a powerful task group – the Carrier Strike Group – made up of warships, F-35B Lightning jets and helicopters.

She is one of five carriers from NATO nations which has been working in Atlantic-Mediterranean waters recently, including USS George H W Bush – on operations in the Adriatic, USS Gerald R Ford – which last week anchored in Stokes Bay, Gosport, on a short visit to Portsmouth, France’s FS Charles de Gaulle and Italy’s ITS Cavour – both in the Mediterranean.

Operation Achillean plays its part in challenging adversaries attempting to fracture the international system and security architecture that have underpinned global security, stability, and prosperity since World War 2. 

Deepening cooperation between allied Armed Forces is a key objective of the mission.

The deployment adds to vital UK defence activity in the High North, deepening cooperation between navies and air forces. 

It also builds on more than 50 years of training and exercises in Norway, especially for the helicopters of Commando Helicopter Force, which head for Exercise Clockwork in northern Norway every year, and Royal Marines who carry out winter training with the Norwegian Army.

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