Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth becomes Royal Navy’s fleet flagship

The Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) has assumed the role of fleet flagship as the navy moves closer to deploying “the world’s most technologically advanced carrier strike group”.

Photo: LPhot Belinda Aker/Royal Navy

Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd was received on HMS Queen Elizabeth to mark the transfer of the role from amphibious transport dock HMS Albion (L14), while Royal Navy ships and shore establishments were informed by a signal at 13:30 on 27 January.

“The position of Fleet Flagship is a symbol of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s importance to the nation, not just in restoring our carrier strike capability, but as a rolling statement of British commitment to global security, prosperity and trade,” Admiral Tony Radakin, The First Sea Lord, said.

“In the coming months HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead the most ambitious Royal Navy deployment in decades. She will be a focal point as we look forward to an extraordinary year.”

It was announced last week that the UK’s new Flagship and Lightning Force of F-35B stealth strike fighters will also be complemented by a detachment of the fifth-generation aircraft from the US Marine Corps, and a US Navy destroyer during her first operational strike group deployment.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth and her strike group will spend time developing collective war-fighting skills when NATO navies gather for exercise Strike Warrior off Scotland during the spring, before departing for the Mediterranean.

“It is a fantastic privilege for Queen Elizabeth to be made the Fleet Flagship as we prepare to sail at the heart of UK’s very high readiness Carrier Strike Group,” Captain Angus Essenhigh, Commanding Officer, commented.

Last year, UK’s 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.

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

Assault ship HMS Albion had been flagship since March 2018, deploying to the Indo-Pacific for 10 months; to the Baltic for major multi-national exercises; and latterly to the Mediterranean leading NATO security patrols and experimental warfare trials. Her sister, HMS Bulwark, previously led the Fleet for four years.

Photo: LPhot Belinda Aker/Royal Navy