The Royal Navy is about to embark on a global cruise, exercising its right to navigate around the world and visit British allies along the way.
The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will act as the command ship for a task force that includes American and Dutch ships and provide organic air power against ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria).
The mission has been criticized by two former Chiefs of Defence, Lord Houghton and Lord Richards. Their angst goes back to the Strategic Defence and Security Review, when the Government backed the Royal Navy’s view of the future, rather than the Army’s proposals. At the time, there was a behind-the-scenes internecine war between the Services as the Treasury reduced the amount of money available to the Armed Forces by boosting the domestic security capability and playing a game of “divide and rule” with the Service Chiefs (a theme covered in my forthcoming book).
The grand tour of the world has not yet become a focus for the environmentalists. However, I am sure some activists will pick up on the fact that the carrier alone carries over 8,000 tonnes of fuel to support the ship and her aircraft. This is enough to power the average family car to travel to the moon and back twelve times.
Whatever the criticisms, it is wonderful to see the Union Jack at sea, leading the way out of the Lockdown with the accompanying diplomatic and trade opportunities that HMS Queen Elizabeth will provide.