Brand new HMS Queen Elizabeth will depart for its first operational deployment next month in a mission that will “fly the flag for Global Britain”.
The £3bn aircraft carrier will head for Asia, with eight RAF F35B stealth fighter jets on board and accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow.
“The entire nation can be proud of the dedicated men and women who for more than six months will demonstrate to the world that the UK is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st century.”
During the 28-week deployment, ships from the group will visit more than 40 countries for more than 70 engagements, including an exercise marking the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
Accompanying HMS Queen Elizabeth will be a surface fleet made up of Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy. This awe-inspiring warship is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft.
As well as state-of-the-art weaponry and communications systems, HMS Queen Elizabeth boasts five gyms, a chapel and a medical centre.
The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in at an enormous four acres, and will be used to launch the fearsome new F35 Joint Strike Fighter fast jet. Four fighter jets can be moved from the hangar to the flight deck in just one minute.
The ship’s two propellers weigh 33 tonnes each. The powerplant behind them generates enough power to run 1000 family cars.
Captain Angus Essenhigh OBE
Capt Essenhigh, who is the fourth commanding officer of the aircraft carrier, has previously been in command of HMS Daring and HMS Protector. During his spell in charge of Daring, he provided humanitarian assistance to the Philippines following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. He was eventually awarded an OBE for that work.