HMS Queen Elizabeth Arrives at Mayport for F-35B Trials

September 6, 2018 – HMS Queen Elizabeth, has arrived in Mayport, Florida for her first ever visit to the USA, following her formal commission into the Royal Navy by her sponsor, Her Majesty, The Queen.

The 65,000 tonne ship departed the UK last month for her first trans-Atlantic voyage, primarily to conduct trials on deck with F-35B Lightning II test fighter jets from the Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

During her three months off the east coast of the USA, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her escort, Type-23 frigate HMS Monmouth will conduct training serials with the US Navy and Marine Corps, further building on their close military relationship and demonstrating their enhanced Carrier Strike interoperability.

A Major from the US Marine Corps will join three British test pilots in conducting the first deck landings onboard the ship, in the F‑35B variant of the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

The USMC will operate their F-35B jets, along with UK squadrons with their joint Royal Navy and Royal Air Force jets, from HMS Queen Elizabeth when she is fully operational in her Carrier Strike role in 2021.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Commanding Officer, Capt Jerry Kyd said: “This deployment to the United States is another first for my ship. Crossing a major ocean with 1500 sailors, aircrew and Marines embarked and the anticipation of the first F-35B Lightning landing on the deck in September is very exciting for us all.

“It has been an incredible journey since we left build in Scotland just over a year ago and we are all looking forward to this next, seminal chapter in HMS Queen Elizabeth’s life.”

As the ship’s work-up continues, so too does the regeneration of the UK’s Carrier Strike capability. Commander UK Carrier Strike Group (COMUKCSG), Cdre Andrew Betton, has Command of the ship and other units of his task group, embarking in HMS Queen Elizabeth with his Carrier Strike Group headquarters staff.

He said: “As a critical step towards delivering the UK’s new Carrier Strike Group, this deployment demonstrates the astonishing collaborative effort that will enable the new F-35B jets to fly routinely from our Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

“At the heart of the Maritime Task Group, the aircraft carrier is well protected and sustained, ready to operate around the world as a potent and exceptionally flexible instrument of our foreign policy.

“The first F-35B embarked trials in a UK aircraft carrier are not only key to future operational success, but represent an iconic moment for the modern Royal Navy.”