The UK’s Carrier Strike Group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, has departed Portsmouth Naval Base on a seven-month maiden deployment.
The 65,000t aircraft carrier recently concluded demanding training.
Nine ships, 32 aircraft, and 3,700 personnel will set sail on the group’s operational deployment, which will extend through the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean and on to the Indo-Pacific.
The task group will take part in a deployment covering 26,000 nautical miles and visit 40 countries including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore.
It will participate in exercises with French carrier FS Charles De Gaulle in the Mediterranean and navies and aircraft from allies such as the US, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan and the UAE.
UK Carrier Strike Group Commander Commodore Steve Moorhouse said: “HMS Queen Elizabeth, her escorts and her aircraft, will now begin the most important peacetime deployment in a generation.
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“It is the privilege of my career to lead 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines from the UK, US and the Netherlands for the next seven-and-a-half-months.”
Destroyers HMS Diamond and Defender, frigates HMS Richmond and Kent, an Astute-class submarine in support below the waves, and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring are joining HMS Queen Elizabeth on its deployment.
More than 30 aircraft including F-35 jets from 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, and the US Marine Corps’ VMFA-211, 815 Naval Air Squadron’s Wildcat helicopters and 820,845 Naval Air Squadrons’ Merlin helicopters will also embark across the task group.
Royal Marines from 42 Commando, Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen and American Arleigh Burke destroyer USS The Sullivans are also part of the strike group.