The Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier strike group will take a circuitous route to avoid the Taiwan Strait to prevent offending Beijing in its maiden voyage in May.
The group, which includes the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will instead go through the South China Sea to the east of the island, which China claims as its own, on route to Japan.
The planned route appears to break with long-standing defence policy which would have expected the £3.2 billion battleship to sail through the Taiwan Strait, technically an international waterway.
The Ministry of Defence told the MailOnline it was unable to provide further information on the HMS Queen Elizabeth, but did not dispute the strike group’s planned route.
The Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier strike group will take a circuitous route to avoid the Taiwan Strait to prevent offending Beijing in its maiden voyage in May
The group, which includes the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will instead go through the South China Sea to the east of the island, which China claims as its own, on route to Japan
Politicians have jumped to criticise the passage schedule, which many see as being too soft on Beijing, the Telegraph reported.
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told the newspaper the government should ‘revisit their schedule’.
He said: ‘I’m pleased the Aircraft Carrier is deploying in the South China Sea but they need to complete this process by letting the Chinese know that they disapprove of their very aggressive actions against their neighbours by sailing through the Taiwan Strait.
‘I hope they will revisit their schedule, and ensure that this happens.’
The warship, which was ironically billed to focus on freedom of navigation operations, will leave Portsmouth for the voyage in the week following Sunday, May 23 (pictured, the HMS Queen Elizabeth berthed in Scotland)
The warship, which was ironically billed to focus on freedom of navigation operations, will leave Portsmouth for the voyage in the week following Sunday, May 23
The warship, which was ironically billed to focus on freedom of navigation operations, will leave Portsmouth for the voyage in the week following Sunday, May 23.
However, personnel have been told to be ready for departure from Portsmouth from May 18. The voyage is expected to last at least six months.
The voyage will include a stop in Gibraltar, exercises, including anti-submarines warfare drills, with NATO and non-NATO partners around the Suez Canal, and a week-long stopover in Duqm, the British navy’s base in Oman, according to the Telegraph.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth will then take part in light joint exercises with the Indian navy in the Indian Ocean, dock briefly in Singapore, and then finish the trip with two weeks of exercises with Japan and the US.
The state of the art warship will be deployed as part of the UK’s aircraft carrier strike group.
The 65,000 tonne carrier is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft and is primarily used to launch F35 strike aircraft.
The carrier will embark F-35B jets from 617 Squadron (the Dambusters’) and Royal Navy Merlin helicopters, and will be escorted and supported by Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers, Type 23 frigates and support ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
The Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B Lightning jets will also be complemented by a detachment of the stealth fighters from the US Marine Corps as well as a US Navy destroyer during the deployment
The Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B Lightning jets will also be complemented by a detachment of the stealth fighters from the US Marine Corps as well as a US Navy destroyer during the deployment.
The Royal Navy recently carried out repairs on its flagship aircraft carrier, affectionately known as ‘Big Lizzie’.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth flooded with salt water following the ‘minor breach’ of a pipe when she sailed from Portsmouth to Scotland in March.
The Navy said the leak was ‘fixed swiftly and had no impact on the ship’s programme’ ahead of planned departures to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and East Asia next month.
The warship’s latest leak is far from the first setback it has suffered in recent years, after divers were sent to repair another breach near the propeller shaft in 2017.
It is understood the recent leak was caused by a burst fire main despite £5.5million upgrades to the sprinkler system after similar problem occurred on board last year.
Inside Britain’s most powerful warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth
At 280 metres long, with a lifespan of half a century and a flight deck of four acres, HMS Queen Elizabeth is Britain’s largest and most powerful warship ever built.
Here are the facts and figures behind the vessel which was officially commissioned into the Royal Navy December 7, 2017
HMS Queen Elizabeth, pictured, weighs some 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots and a four-acre flight deck
- The aircraft carrier weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed in excess of 25 knots.
- A number of ship building yards around the country were involved in the build – these include Govan and Scotstoun in Glasgow, Appledore in Devon, Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, Wirral, A&P on the Tyne in Newcastle and Portsmouth.
- A total of 10,000 people worked on construction of the ship, made up in sections at yards around the UK and transported to Rosyth, Fife, where it was assembled.
- It is the second ship in the Royal Navy to be named Queen Elizabeth.
- The ship has a crew of around 700, that will increase to 1,600 when a full complement of F-35B jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.
- There are 364,000 metres of pipes inside the ship, and from keel to masthead she measures 56 metres, four metres more than Niagara Falls.
- Facilities onboard include a chapel, a medical centre and 12-bed ward, staffed with GPs, a nurse and medical assistants, as well as a dentist and dental nurse.
- There are also five gyms on the warship which include a cardiovascular suite, two free weight rooms and a boxing gym.
- Regular fitness circuit sessions and sporting activities such as basketball and tug of war are held in the hangar and on the flight deck, with weights and other items stored inside the flight deck ramp.
- The Captain of the ship was Angus Essenhigh
- There are five galleys on the warship which is where the food is cooked and those on board eat their meals everyday. This includes two main galleys, the bridge mess and an aircrew refreshment bar.
- The distribution network on board manages enough energy to power 30,000 kettles or 5,500 family homes.
- Its flight deck is 280 metres long and 70 metres wide, enough space for three football pitches.
- The entire ship’s company of 700 can be served a meal within 90 minutes, 45 minutes when at action stations.
- Recreational spaces enjoyed by the crew feature televisions and sofas, as well as popular board games including the traditional Royal Navy game of Uckers.
- Each of the two aircraft lifts on HMS Queen Elizabeth can move two fighter jets from the hangar to the flight deck in 60 seconds.
- The warship has a range of 8,000 to 10,000 nautical miles, and has two propellers – each weighing 33 tonnes and with a combined 80MW output of power – enough to run 1,000 family cars or 50 high speed trains.