HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for deployment to northern Europe

Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth has set sail to deploy to northern Europe with Nato allies.

The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth Naval Base in Hampshire, to head a carrier strike group which will include a force made up of warships, helicopters and F35B Lightning fighter jets.

The 65,000 tonne warship recently returned from the US where it hosted the Atlantic Future Forum (AFF) in New York – a defence conference focusing on Anglo-American military, political and strategic relations.

It had taken up the role after sister ship HMS Prince of Wales broke down off the Isle of Wight after suffering a broken propeller shaft.

A navy spokesman said that F-35B Lightning jets from 617 Squadron will carry out flying operations during the latest deployment called Operation Achillean.

Helicopters from 820, 845, 815 and 825 Naval Air Squadrons will also be carrying out their own sorties.

He said: “The Carrier Strike Group will work closely with Nato and Joint Expeditionary Force allies as the UK underscores its commitment to safeguarding European security.”

The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) is a coalition of 10 like-minded nations, which are dedicated to maintaining the security of northern Europe.

HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in New York
HMS Queen Elizabeth arriving in New York in September (MoD/PA)

Commodore John Voyce, Portsmouth’s naval base commander, said: “We wish HMS Queen Elizabeth and all the Carrier Strike Group the best of luck on their upcoming deployment.

“All at Portsmouth’s Naval Base are proud to support the Royal Navy’s flagship and prepare her for Operation Achillean. We look forward to welcoming her home when it is complete.

“This latest deployment builds on a range of operations and exercises with JEF allies this year for the Royal Navy, including maritime patrols in the Baltic Sea.”

A second task force led by transport dock HMS Albion has also been deployed as part of Operation Achillean with visits already carried out to Montenegro, Libya, Cyprus and Egypt.