RAF Marham personnel to meet Queen as she visits aircraft carrier
- Credit: PA
Personnel from a Norfolk air base will be among those meeting the Queen as she tours the nation's flagship aircraft carrier before its maiden deployment.
The monarch is visiting HMS Queen Elizabeth as the vessel prepares to lead the UK carrier strike group on a 28-week operational deployment travelling more than 26,000 miles from the Mediterranean to the Philippines.
The ship's complement of aircraft includes F-35 Lightning stealth fighters from the 617 'Dambusters' Squadron, based at RAF Marham. Her Majesty is honorary commodore of the station.
The Queen is expected to arrive on board the ship at Portsmouth Harbour this morning. She will be greeted by its commanding officer, Capt Angus Essenhigh and Commodore Stephen Moorhouse, commander of the carrier strike group.
The monarch will be briefed on the role of the group and its forthcoming deployment, before meeting Royal Navy, RAF and Royal Marines personnel, as well as some of the 250 US Marines who will be serving on the operation alongside their UK counterparts.
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Named by the Queen at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland in July 2014, the 65,000-ton Queen Elizabeth is one of the two largest warships ever built by the Royal Navy.
She began sea trials in 2017 and will embark on her first operational deployment tomorrow, leading the UK carrier strike group in engagements with 40 nations including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore.
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The carrier strike group will travel from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea, and from the Indian Ocean to the Philippine Sea in 28 weeks. HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead four Royal Navy frigates and destroyers, a submarine and two Royal Fleet Auxiliaries. The UK will be joined on the deployment by a destroyer from the United States Navy and a frigate from the Dutch Navy.
She will carry 1,700 personnel including sailors, airmen and women, Royal Marines, and 250 United States personnel. As well as eight F-35 Lightnings from Marham and their air and ground crews, she will carry 10 F-35s from the US Marine Corps and 10 Merlin helicopters.