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HMS Queen Elizabeth sets sail for sea trials

The fleet flagship will eventually be part of a carrier strike group deployment to the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and east Asia.

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The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base in Hampshire as it sets sail for exercises at sea (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base in Hampshire as it sets sail for exercises at sea (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base in Hampshire as it sets sail for exercises at sea (Steve Parsons/PA)

Hundreds of well-wishers have waved off Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth as it set sail for sea trials.

The £3 billion warship left Portsmouth Naval Base for planned trials and training ahead of its first deployment this spring.

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The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base (Steve Parsons/PA)

PA

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth Naval Base (Steve Parsons/PA)

The carrier, which took over the role of fleet flagship in June, will return to the Hampshire base by the end of the month.

Last year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that HMS Queen Elizabeth will be at the centre of a carrier strike group deployment to the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and east Asia.

The carrier will embark F-35B jets from 617 Squadron (the “Dambusters”) and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters, and will be escorted and supported by Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and support ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth took over the role of fleet flagship in June (Steve Parsons/PA)

HMS Queen Elizabeth took over the role of fleet flagship in June (Steve Parsons/PA)

PA

HMS Queen Elizabeth took over the role of fleet flagship in June (Steve Parsons/PA)

The Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B Lightning jets will also be complemented by a detachment of the stealth fighters from the US Marine Corps as well as a US Navy destroyer during the deployment.

The carrier and its strike group will first take part in a war-fighting exercise with other Nato navies during Exercise Strike Warrior off Scotland in May before it departs for the Mediterranean.

Last month, following talks with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Japan welcomed the decision to send the carrier to the Indo-Pacific region amid growing tensions with China over navigation rights.

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Police ribs escort HMS Queen Elizabeth (Steve Parsons/PA)

Police ribs escort HMS Queen Elizabeth (Steve Parsons/PA)

PA

Police ribs escort HMS Queen Elizabeth (Steve Parsons/PA)

Mr Wallace said: “The most significant Royal Navy deployment in a generation demonstrates the UK’s commitment to working with our partners in the region to uphold the rules-based international system and promote our shared security and prosperity.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said it was part of the UK’s “tilt” towards the Indo-Pacific region following Brexit.

PA


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