During the last few weeks, the final preparations for the UK Carrier Strike deployment have been completed and the ships sailed on 1st May. This photo essay covers the various elements of the group and their departure.
The ships will embark aircraft and head to the Scottish coast to begin Exercise Strike Warrior which will run between 8th – 20th May. This will provide an opportunity for the group to work up in preparation for the deployment. Replacing the usual biannual exercise Joint Warrior, Strike Warrior will have a broad scope and involve 10 NATO nations, including 31 warships, 3 submarines, 150 aircraft and live firing on the Scottish ranges.
Expect to see a joint photo exercise (PHOTEX) featuring both aircraft carriers soon. HMS Prince of Wales is also at sea, having sailed from Portsmouth for the first time in 14 months on the 30th April.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is likely to return to the Solent, before departing for the deployment around 23rd May.
Seven Merlins of 820 Naval Air Squadron flew onto HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside in Portsmouth on 27 April (Photo: Amy Savage)
Two Crowsnest-equipped Merlins landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time.
An enormous amount of preparation work has been going on in Portsmouth and other naval bases over the last few months to prepare and store the ships. HMS Queen Elizabeth alone loaded 924 pallets of food and 55 shipping containers full of stores in about 400 crane lifts. The ship is also carrying two complete F-35 engines worth £20M each.
Illustrating just how much space is available on the carrier – the newly opened Haven Cafe is available to all personnel when off watch.
Documentary film maker Chris Terrill will sail with HMS Queen Elizabeth and be on board for the next seven months to make a series for the BBC. He has already produced two excellent series about the carrier “Britain’s Biggest Warship” covering the generation of the ship and the Westlant 18 deployment. (Photo: Chris Terril)
An important and potent part of the Carrier Strike group will be an Astute-class submarine. This Astute boat seen heading down the Clyde on 22 April (Photo: Sheila Weir).
USMCs F-35Bs of VMFA-211 crossed the Atlantic ahead of their deployment on HMS Queen Elizabeth. Lined up on the apron at RAF Lakenheath. 10 jets and 180 USMC personnel will embark on the ship together with a team of 18 US Navy ordnance specialists loaned from the aircraft carrier, USS John Stennis. (26th April Photo: 4th Fighter Wing, USAF)
Wildcat with full load of 20 Martlet missiles embarked on HMS Dragon in Portsmouth.
HMS Dragon sailed on 30 April. She is not involved in the Carrier Strike Group deployment but will likely be involved in developmental flying and testing with Wildcat and Martlet missile. Note the temporary telemetry mast fitted on the focsle. She will likely also participate in the multinational exercise Formidable Sheild 21 following Strike Warrior, which is focused on missile defence. (Photo: PortsmouthProud)
RFA Fort Victoria heading down the Clyde to join the CSG after loading munitions and stores at Crombie and fuel at Loch Striven. RFA Tidespring also sailed from Portland to join the group. (Photo: Shelia Weir)
Four Wildcats of 815 Naval Air Squadron take off from RNAS Yeovilton. One will be embarked in each of the 4 escorts.
HMS Diamond the first of the group to sail from Portsmouth on 1 May (Photo: RoyalNavyNews_).
(Photo: Shaun Roster)
Friends, family and well-wishers wave off HMS Diamond. The 3,500 personnel serving on the deployment will be away from loved ones for almost 7 months. (Photo: Amy Savage)
HMS Defender (Photo: Shaun Roster)
HMS Richmond passing through Plymouth Sound as she sails from Devonport to join the group (Photo: Kevin Kelway).
HMS Kent sails in a rain squall (Photo: Amy Savage).
HMS Queen Elizabeth off the wall
Upper decks lined with sailors for procedure alpha, The ship is carrying the largest number of people she has taken to sea so far. (Photo: Amy Savage).
The green of Marine uniforms can be seen amongst the personnel lining the decks (Photo: Amy Savage).
Crowds of spectators line the shoreline at Southsea (Photo: Amy Savage)
RAF and USMC personnel on deck for procedure alpha.
On the bridge.
(Photo: Shaun Roster)