UK’s $4.2 billion aircraft carrier returns home after historic deployment

Royal Navy’s biggest warship, aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, has returned to Portsmouth after its maiden operational deployment which took the nation’s flagship to the Indo-Pacific and back.

Photo by Royal Navy

On a landmark seven-month mission, the aircraft carrier and its task group of eight supporting ships, a submarine, five air squadrons and more than 3,700 personnel visited more than 40 countries. The vessel has led the UK Carrier Strike Group through its mission.

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns from her seven-month global mission; Photo by Royal Navy

The Carrier Strike Group includes NATO destroyers – the Royal Navy’s Type 45s HMS Diamond and HMS Defender and US Navy Arleigh Burke-class USS The Sullivans as well as frigates HMS Northumberland and HMS Kent from the UK and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Evertsen.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth returned after some of its escort warships, which formed a protective ring around the aircraft carrier during the operations, including Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond.

Photo by: Royal Navy

“Throughout the past seven months HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Strike Group have been furthering the UK’s interests and strengthening our partnerships around the globe. With involvement from across the Armed Forces, and our allies integrated throughout, this deployment has been a truly joint, truly international endeavour…” Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said.

The aircraft carrier and its strike group sailed a combined 500,000 nautical miles and strengthened bonds with allies, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Greece, Israel, India, Italy, Japan, Oman and the Republic of Korea.

The task group was also a notable international effort, with Dutch frigate Evertsen and US Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans sailing side by side with seven British ships on the deployment.

US Marine Corps jets were also deployed alongside the RAF’s 617 Squadron onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, assembling the largest contingent of fifth-generation stealth jets ever seen at sea, according to the navy officials

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The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is the largest Royal Navy warship. With a displacement of 65,000 tonnes, it is 280 meters long and about 70 meters wide.  This warship is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft.

Photo by: Royal Navy