On Wednesday, Britain’s largest warship HMS Queen Elizabeth docked in Cyprus as she spearheads the largest UK peacetime deployment in a generation, Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21).
Over the coming days, the Royal Navy flagship will be docked at Limassol port to host Cypriot dignitaries and British forces personnel based on the island.
HMS Queen Elizabeth has been at sea for three weeks since leaving Sicily, Italy, the first stop on tour, and recently completed operations focused in the Eastern Mediterranean.
F-35Bs on board the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier have been flying combat missions against Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Shader.
Ahead of the £3.2bn ship’s arrival in Limassol, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said: “The Mediterranean remains as important to our collective security and prosperity in the 21st Century as it has as any other time in our history.
“In the case of Cyprus, we look forward to leading a diverse programme of joint training, visits and discussions with Cypriot leaders across the defence, security and cyber areas from government, national guard and many, many other sectors of society.
“We see this as a huge opportunity to build on the strong UK-Cyprus partnership through the convening power of HMS Queen Elizabeth and all that she has to offer.”
The roughly 1,600-strong crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth will get a chance to take shore leave during the ship’s stay in Cyprus.
Captain Angus Essenhigh OBE, Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, said: “The security of the Eastern Mediterranean is crucial to the security of Europe as a whole, which is why the United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group has been working alongside our partners in the region for the past few weeks.
The Royal Navy’s state-of-the-art aircraft carrier is in Limassol for a five-day visit.