Global Affairs

'Return' of the British to Asia?

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth’s maiden deployment includes visits to Asian ports and regional hot spots. It’s a signal of a decisive British tilt to Asia.

People watching from the shore as HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier leaves Portsmouth Naval Base on the south coast of England. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

She's off! On a grey morning last weekend, HMS Queen Elizabeth, the most powerful vessel ever built for the British navy and the largest aircraft carrier in the world outside the United States, left its home port of Portsmouth in the south coast of England on its maiden deployment, a long voyage which will culminate in the Indo-Pacific region, with India, Singapore, Japan and South Korea at the top of the list of nations to be visited.

Foreign naval deployments in Asian waters are becoming fashionable; almost every nation which possesses a half-decent navy sends a battleship of some sort to fly the flag and support freedom of navigation operations, or Fonops as naval commanders like to call them.

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