HMS Queen Elizabeth departs HMNB Portsmouth ahead of its maiden operational deployment

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Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has departed HMNB Portsmouth ahead of its first operational deployment after an unscheduled stop. 

The 65,000 tonne ship was forced to return to its naval base due to heavy winds, but last night (22/5) it took to the sea once more.

Spectacular photos show the £3bn Royal Navy warship restart its journey to the Far East where it will join the other ships in the Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

It was intended to continue carrying out final preparations for the voyage in The Solent with the other CSG ships, but winds of up to 50mph forced the navy to bring their flagship back to port on Wednesday (19/5).

HMS Queen Elizabeth carried on board eight RAF and ten US Marine Corps F35B stealth fighter jets.

It left the harbour accompanied by a submarine, six Royal Navy ships, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

The Queen made an official visit to her namesake yesterday (Sat) and met some of the personnel on board.

An MOD spokesman said the weather had to be taken to account due to the narrow entrances of Portsmouth Harbour and the specifically-dredged channels from the Solent.

Over the next 28 weeks the CSG will cover over 25,000 nautical miles - further than the distance around the world at the equator.

The fleet will carry out visits to Japan, India, South Korea and Singapore, involving a total of 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines.

The first operation will be in the Mediterranean, where the F-35 jets will be launched to conduct airstrikes over Iraq against the militant group Islamic State.

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