Upon the UK government’s recommendation to shift the country’s focus toward the Indo-Pacific region where China’s influence is growing, the HMS Queen Elizabeth flagship will sail all the way to the Philippine Sea from the Mediterranean. Boris Johnson insists that the deployment shouldn’t be seen as confrontational by “friends in China.”
Queen Elizabeth II paid a quick visit to Portsmouth Naval Base on Saturday to greet her namesake ship – HMS Queen Elizabeth – ahead of its 28-week operational deployment to the Far East, according to AP.
The 95-year-old monarch arrived at the base by helicopter just a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson toured the flagship, which carries eight RAF F35B stealth fighter jets. The ship is expected to depart Portsmouth Naval Base on Saturday accompanied by 14 helicopters, a submarine, and six Royal Navy ships.
During the visit, Queen Elizabeth met with the ship’s commander Captain Angus Essenhigh and Commodore Stephen Moorhouse, who heads the UK Carrier Strike Group commanding the deployment.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to visit at least 40 countries on its journey. Its first stop is Gibraltar – it will then sail through the Mediterranean Sea while conducting exercises with NATO allies. The carrier will stop short of entering the Black Sea, as an international treaty dictates, but the UK Navy’s Type 45 destroyer and Type 23 frigate from the task group are reportedly prepared to head into the region “to show…