HMS Queen Elizabeth: Crowds gather to wave off Royal Navy flagship

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HMS Queen Elizabeth departs HM Naval BaseImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
HMS Queen Elizabeth set off from Portsmouth Naval Base for a 28-week deployment

Hundreds of people lined the harbour walls in Portsmouth to wave off the Royal Navy's flagship as it set sail on its first operational deployment.

HMS Queen Elizabeth departed from Portsmouth Naval Base for a 28-week deployment, leading a fleet known as the Carrier Strike Group (CSG).

The Queen went onboard to wish the crew well before it headed off for the Indo-Pacific region.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Hundreds of people lined the harbour walls to wave off the Royal Navy's new flagship
Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Crowds waited for hours to watch the the £3bn warship depart Portsmouth

The carrier had not been expected to return to Portsmouth after taking part in an exercise off Scotland.

The plan was for the CSG to gather in the Solent prior to departure but heavy winds led to the unscheduled stop at the naval base.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Over the next 28 weeks the £3bn warship will cover 26,000 miles

The ship began sea trials in 2017, having replaced HMS Illustrious which was scrapped in 2014.

It has eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F35B stealth fighter jets onboard and will be accompanied to Asia by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

Media caption,

The Queen toured the Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth and met crew members

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