HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, will dock at Limassol Port in the coming days to undertake a wide-ranging programme of activity and engagement with Cypriot partners from government, the defence and security sector, and the local community.
According to a press release issued by the UK High Commission in Nicosia, HMS Queen Elizabeth is leading nine ships of the United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group (UKCSG) on a 26,000-mile deployment across the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean and onwards to East Asia. Having departed from Portsmouth on 22 May, the Carrier makes her second stop in Cyprus after leaving port from Sicily, Italy. She will be joined in Cypriot waters by a Dutch frigate, HNLMS Evertsen, and a US destroyer, USS The Sullivans.
On this, her maiden operational tour, HMS Queen Elizabeth leads the UKCSG in a landmark deployment which embodies the UK government’s vision of a Global Britain; a leading member of the western alliance and an energetic and dependable partner in the Eastern Mediterranean. Her stop in Limassol is tribute to the enduring importance of Cyprus in the region as well as to the breadth and depth of the bilateral UK-Cyprus relationship.
The press release underlined that “the Carrier’s stay in Limassol Port is an important opportunity to showcase and develop the strong and dynamic UK-Cyprus defence partnership, building upon last summer’s largest ever Royal Navy deployment to the island which, led by HMS Albion, participated in Cyprus’ seventh annual NEMESIS crisis management exercise and carried out an extensive joint training programme with the National Guard and other local partners.”
During the Carrier’s time in Cyprus, she will host a wide-range of representatives from the Cypriot government, the National Guard, and the security and defence sectors. Guests and visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about her fifth generation stealth fighters, and hear from some of the 1,600 diverse and highly skilled personnel serving on-board.
The UK Carrier Strike Group will also conduct joint training exercises with British Forces Cyprus, including the Regional Standby Battalion 2 Yorks. The Military Working Dogs section will carry out search training on board HMS Queen Elizabeth while personnel from the Carrier will have the opportunity to train in the British Bases and take part in sports and recreational activity during their time ashore.
Captain Angus Essenhigh OBE, Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, said that “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. Following a busy period of operations, it gives me huge pleasure to bring HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy, to Limassol for a five-day visit.”
He noted that “HMS Queen Elizabeth looks forward to representing Global Britain with a series of visits and engagements designed to strengthen the bonds between the United Kingdom and Cyprus in defence and security but also trade, technology and many other areas of mutual interest.”
British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Stephen Lillie, said that “I’m delighted that HMS Queen Elizabeth will be visiting Limassol as part of the Carrier Strike Group’s deployment to the region. The arrival of this state-of-the-art aircraft carrier is the latest exciting development in Britain’s steadily-growing defence engagement relationship with the Republic of Cyprus.”
“It is also a testament to our commitment to peace and stability in the strategically vital Eastern Mediterranean. I look forward to joining the captain and ship’s company to welcome on board a wide range of our Cypriot friends and partners during the course of her stay here, and to building further the strong bonds of friendship between our two countries,” he added.
General Rob Thomson, Bases Administrator and Commander British Forces Cyprus said that “the Carrier Strike Group’s visit underlines the importance of the close defence and security relationship between Cyprus and the UK. I am delighted that we in the Bases can support this visit to Cyprus. We provide a fantastic array of training opportunities and will, alongside several Cypriot partners, be resupplying the biggest and most capable ship in the Royal Navy. This deployment through the region shows the UK’s commitment to maintain a secure and stable Eastern Mediterranean.”