A recent visit to HMS Prince of Wales brought the impending deployment of her twin, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sharply into focus.
The 62,000 ton aircraft carrier will shortly leave Portsmouth on a 28-week, 40-port tour on route to the Far East.
The largest UK naval deployment since the Falklands, she’ll be accompanied by two destroyers, two frigates, two Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships and a submarine.
A US guided missile destroyer and a Dutch frigate complete the strike group.
On board our new carrier will be British and American F35 jets, helicopters and a contingent of Royal Marines.
Our largest concentration of maritime and air power has taken years of preparation.
What’s surprising is the carping that has accompanied this deployment, most notably from the BBC’s Today programme on Monday.
Rather than welcome this extraordinary feat of British engineering, shipbuilding and international co-operation, they were intent on finding fault, demonstrating a basic misunderstanding of how our armed forces work.
As part of NATO, joint exercises will always be the norm, and integration with our most important ally, the future.
Flying the flag across the globe, this vast, floating airbase is not only a potent symbol of our values, but will bring greater flexibility to our varied maritime roles,
As a fighting platform, she adds to a mix of almost unimaginable firepower within a strike group.
This deployment will see the fleet joining exercises in the Indo-Pacific, emphasizing the freedom to navigate international waters currently under threat.
While there is no desire to provoke, the point must be made.
HMS Queen Elizabeth takes on a gigantic task, but I have no doubt that she will make us proud.
I wish her and all who sail with her, Godspeed.