On 1 May 2021, the United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group departed Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth (HMNB Portsmouth) on her first maiden deployment.
The group, spearheaded by Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has achieved Initial Operating Capability, meaning all elements, from fighter jets to radar and anti-ship weapons, have been successfully brought together and operated.
The Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is scheduled to visit more than 40 countries and conduct more than 70 engagements, including dual carrier operations with French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Mediterranean. Engagements are scheduled with India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
The strike group will also take part in Exercise Bersama Lima to mark the 50th anniversary of the five-powers agreement with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. The length of the deployment is 28 weeks.
The Queen Elizabeth will carry eight Royal Air Force (RAF) F-35B Lightning IIs (617 Squadron Dambusters), ten US Marine Corps (USMC) F-35B Lightning IIs (VMFA-211 The Wake Island Avengers), four AW159 Wildcat HMA2 maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin HM2 anti-submarine and three Merlin HC4 commando helicopters.
Prior to leaving the UK, the Carrier Strike Group (CSG) will take part in a major exercise, Strike Warrior, off the coast of Scotland before departing for the Mediterranean. After this exercise, QE and her Carrier Strike Group will head south through the Atlantic with a stop-off expected in Gibraltar before heading into the Mediterranean.
The CSG will include the Daring-class destroyers, HMS Defender (D36) and HMS Diamond (D34); Norfolk-class frigates, HMS Kent (F78) and HMS Richmond (F239) ; an Astute-class attack submarine; and the support ships RFA Fort Victoria (A387) and RFA Tidespring (A136). In addition, the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F-805) and US destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) will accompany the carrier group.