|Image via Mailonline/AFP|
By: Wording OD.
When Big Lizzie met Big George: Stunning moment Navy's new £3bn aircraft carrier sailed alongside America's giant warship USS George HW Bush in a spectacular show of strength in North Sea.
Britain's new flagship aircraft carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth was photographed today sailing the seas alongside US ships in a show of strength before heading to the Royal Navy's Portsmouth base.
The new £3billion ship was pictured along with the HMS Westminster, HMS Iron Duke, HNOMS Helge Ingstad from Norway, USS Donald Cook and USS Philippine Sea and USS George HW Bush.
Military leaders have said the Queen Elizabeth and its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales would mark Britain as a player on the world map, and be able to match the capabilities of the larger fleet of US warships.
Commodore Andrew Betton said the £3billion flagship was 'firmly the right thing' for the UK to invest in, given its role as a permanent member of the United Nations security council.
Members of Britain's new carrier strike group have been engaged with the US Navy and other international allies in Exercise Saxon Warrior, aboard the USS George HW Bush.
HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH PROFILE: THE SHIP THEY CALL 'BIG LIZZIE'
The 97,000-tonne and 1,092ft Nimitz class USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier was seen off Scotland on Sunday in the latest phase of the war game, ahead of the UK's carrier strike group setting up on the Queen Elizabeth in the coming months.
And HMS Iron Duke is known for being the ship Prince William served aboard when it played a key role in the Royal Navy's £40million cocaine bust in the Caribbean in 2008 when they seized 45 bales of the drug weighing a total of 1,980lb.
Yesterday, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon confirmed the Royal Navy's future flagship is expected to arrive in her new home port within weeks.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail into Portsmouth following extensive preparations at the naval base to accommodate the largest ship in the fleet.
Weather conditions mean the exact date of the carrier's arrival is yet to be confirmed. The window for entry will open on August 17 and the vessel is expected to dock no later than August 22.
The 280-metre (919ft), 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier has been undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Rosyth dockyard in June.
The carrier currently has no planes but flying trials are due to begin next year, with 10 F-35 Lightning II jets and 120 aircrew preparing for the task in the US.
Sir Michael said: 'In just two weeks' time, the most powerful warship ever built for Britain's famous Royal Navy is set to sail into her proud new home in Portsmouth.
'HMS Queen Elizabeth will be the Royal Navy's flagship for the next 50 years, keeping us safe by deploying across the seven seas, using her strike power to deter our enemies.'
Preparations for the warship's arrival saw more than 20,000 items ranging from a human skull to sea mines dredged up from Portsmouth Harbour.
A total of 3.2 million cubic metres of sediment - the equivalent of 12,800 Olympic swimming pools - were removed during the dredging operation carried out to deepen the harbour mouth to enable the Queen Elizabeth to reach Portsmouth Naval Base.
And Cmdr Betton, commander of the Royal Navy's carrier strike group, said the two new carriers marked a huge step for UK defence that would 'usher in a new era of carrier strike activity'.
Speaking aboard USS George HW Bush, he added: 'Carrier enabled power projection, which is the formal term for this capability, offers strategic choice to Her Majesty's Government.
'The ability to scale from humanitarian assistance, response to natural disasters, through to a poise to try and deter a potential conflict and if necessary to engage as a serious tier one partner in the international coalition to take our place at the top table.
'As a United Nations permanent security council member, I feel it's firmly the right thing for the United Kingdom to be doing.'
The Royal United Services Institute recently warned that the £3billion carrier could be disabled with a single strike from a relatively cheap missile costing less than £500,000, and sunk by multiple missiles.
Other recent warnings around the Queen Elizabeth have concerned its technology and vulnerability to cyber attack, as well as the number of ships and maritime aircraft available to protect it.
Captain Ken Houlberg, the UK carrier strike group chief of staff, said the capability delivered by an aircraft carrier and strike group 'sets that nation on the world map - it's a player'.
He added: 'It's got hard power tools that can deliver capability across the spectrum of conflict, from humanitarian and disaster relief through defence engagement to full high-end war fighting with our coalition allies. It sets Britain apart.'
Both men were also confident the UK's two carriers could compete with the American fleet, with the USS George HW Bush one of ten in the US Navy.
Cmdr Betton said the two British carriers would operate at a high state or readiness, with one or the other always available at short notice to undertake carrier strike operations.
Cpt Houlberg added: 'We've got to get from two carriers the sorts of things the Americans get from a lot more, and that's going to be quite a challenge, but it's something I'm confident we can deliver.'
Exercise Saxon Warrior
Commodore Andrew Betton, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, is embarked with his team for the Exercise Saxon Warrior 2017.
The joint maritime exercise will focus how the US and the UK work together during a number of challenging scenarios around the UK coastline.
Cmdr Betton said: 'Exercise Saxon Warrior is a large, multinational joint exercise which involves fifteen warships from five different nations, submarines, over 100 aircraft and about 9,000 personnel.'
It forms part of the training for those who will take on the HMS Queen Elizabeth when it comes into service.
Cmdr Eric Retz, US Navy Carrier Strike Group 2’s operations officer, added: 'Saxon Warrior will test every aspect of our war-fighting capabilities-from air wing strikes to the self-defence of the carrier.
'The beauty of operating with coalition partners is that we practice with them, learn their strengths, and then blend those strengths together to make the most potent coalition force possible.'
Source: By MARK DUELL FOR MAILONLINE