U.K.’s New Aircraft Carrier Visits Mayport
LONDON — The United Kingdom’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, arrived in Mayport, Florida, Sept. 5 for it first ever visit to the United States, following its formal commission into the Royal Navy, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in a release.
The 65,000-ton ship departed the United Kingdom last month for its first transatlantic voyage, primarily to conduct trials on deck with F-35B Lightning II test fighter jets from the Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
During three months off the east coast of the United States, HMS Queen Elizabeth and its escort, Type-23 frigate HMS Monmouth, will conduct training serials with the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, further building on their close military relationship and demonstrating their enhanced carrier strike interoperability.
A major from the U.S. Marine Corps will join three British test pilots in conducting the first deck landings onboard the ship, in the F-35B variant of the Lightning II joint strike fighter. The U.S. Marine Corps will operate their F-35B jets, along with U.K. squadrons with their joint Royal Navy and Royal Air Force jets, from HMS Queen Elizabeth when it is fully operational in its carrier strike role in 2021.
“This deployment to the United States is another first for my ship,” said Capt. Jerry Kyd, HMS Queen Elizabeth commanding officer. “Crossing a major ocean with 1,500 sailors, aircrew and Marines embarked and the anticipation of the first F-35B Lightning landing on the deck in September is very exciting for us all. It has been an incredible journey since we left build in Scotland just over a year ago and we are all looking forward to this next, seminal chapter in HMS Queen Elizabeth’s life.”
As the ship’s work-up continues, so too does the regeneration of the U.K.’s carrier strike capability. Commander, U.K. Carrier Strike Group, Cdre. Andrew Betton, has command of the ship and other units of his task group, embarking in HMS Queen Elizabeth with his Carrier Strike Group headquarters staff.
“As a critical step towards delivering the U.K.’s new Carrier Strike Group, this deployment demonstrates the astonishing collaborative effort that will enable the new F-35B jets to fly routinely from our Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers,” Betton said. “At the heart of the Maritime Task Group, the aircraft carrier is well protected and sustained, ready to operate around the world as a potent and exceptionally flexible instrument of our foreign policy. The first F-35B embarked trials in a U.K. aircraft carrier are not only key to future operational success but represent an iconic moment for the modern Royal Navy.”