HMS Queen Elizabeth: When does ship leave Portsmouth and what will she carry?

At £3bn, warship is most expensive in naval fleet – and largest

Tom Batchelor
Monday 26 April 2021 11:55 BST
HMS Queen Elizabeth - Key facts and figures

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the “largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy”, will set sail next month for her first operational deployment.

The warship is capable of carrying 40 aircraft and will be carrying eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F35B Lightning II jets for a maiden voyage to the Asia-Pacific region.

The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth is 16,000 square metres and four fighter jets can be moved from the hangar to the main deck in just one minute.

At a cost of £3bn, the warship is the most expensive in the fleet. Measuring 280 metres in length and weighing 65,000 tonnes, with each of the ship’s two propellers accounting for 33 tonnes alone, HMS Queen Elizabeth dwarfs her predecessors.

The aircraft carrier, which will replace HMS Ocean as the fleet flagship, will transport senior naval staff, receive foreign dignitaries, and act as a command and control centre for the entire Royal Navy.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart for Asia accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

An RAF F-35B Lightning jet preparing to take off from the flight deck of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

The Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which will carry out visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, will include the US destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

During the 28-week deployment, ships from the Carrier Strike Group are expected to visit more than 40 countries and undertake more than 70 engagements, including sailing alongside the French carrier Charles De Gaulle in the Mediterranean.

Prior to leaving the UK, the CSG will take part in a major exercise, Strike Warrior, off the coast of Scotland before departing for the Mediterranean.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said on Monday the mission aims to show that Britain is “not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system”.

“When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said in a statement.

Last month, Boris Johnson announced that the Indo-Pacific region would become the UK’s defense and foreign policy focus.

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