HMS Queen Elizabeth Westlant 18 deployment – Part 1

HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Portsmouth on the 18th August and arrived at Naval Sation Mayport, Florida for her first visit to the United States on 5th September. This photo and video essay documents the initial part of her Westlant 18 deployment.

Departing from Portsmouth on a grey Saturday afternoon.

70 Royal Marines of 42 Commando are on board for the deployment. They exercise with US Marines ashore and will rehearse their role as Special Purpose Task Group (SPTG) intended to recover downed pilots and sensitive equipment from enemy territory.

Personnel board newly upgraded Mk4 Merlins of “Furious flight” 845 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton.

Aircrew of 845 Naval Air Squadron arrive on board HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time.

HMS Monmouth rendezvous with QE in the Atlantic, August 24th. HMS Monmouth will act as escort to provide force protection and as ‘plane guard’ to rescue aircrew in the event of aircraft ditching. (Photo: @HMS_Monmouth)

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Navigating officer explains the use of the sextant

Merlin Mk 4 practices Helicopter In Flight Refuelling (HIFR).

Mk 4 Merlins practice VERTREP

Interview with Commodore Andrew Betton and Captain Jerry Kyd

The Wildcat HMA2 based on HMS Monmouth makes the first landing by this aircraft type on QE. Slightly easier than landing on the flight deck of a frigate!

HMS Monmouth watches over the carrier.

Anti-submarine Merlins Mk2s of 820 Naval Air Squadron on board HMS Queen Elizabeth

HMS Monmouth conducts 4.5″ Gunnex

Arrival in Mayport (US Navy photo)

On board as HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Mayport, Florida.

The RN stated before she sailed that HMS Queen Elizabeth has embarked 700 tonnes of relief stores and contingency planning has been made for disaster relief operations in the Caribbean if required. QE is now conveniently placed to assist if called on but RFA Mounts Bay is already in the region and very well prepared. QE would probably only needed if there was damage of similar severity to that experienced in the wake of Hurricane Irma last year. Everyone fervently hopes this will not be the case, although some storms are forecast.

Assuming she is not needed for relief operations, it is expected QE will only be in Mayport for a few days to collect fuel and supplies before conducting some warm weather trials in the Carribean. She will then head north to Naval Station Norfolk for an extended visit, prior to F-35 trials which will probably start sometime during the third week of September. More news and updates will be posted here as the deployment progresses.