British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth made its second excursion to New York, to host the Atlantic Future Forum (AFF), a defense conference on Anglo-American military, political and strategic relations.
The enormous ship arrived Sunday evening to be greeted by the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth is not only the United Kingdom’s flagship, but is a fantastic demonstration of the soft power and the close working relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the transatlantic relationship. It’s an enormous honor to sail into New York on her,” Pierce said, according to the Daily Mail.
She continued, “We share an endeavor in remaining the United States’ closest ally, and I am very proud of what the ship has achieved for Britain in her deployment to the Indo-Pacific last year.”
New York, New York! 🗽
We’ve arrived in the Big Apple for the 5th @FutureAtlantic forum.
In a few days’ time we’ll welcome 🇬🇧 and 🇺🇸 political, military and business leaders onboard to address some of the challenging questions of our time.#AFF22
— HMS Queen Elizabeth 🇬🇧 (@HMSQNLZ) September 25, 2022
The crew of the British behemoth will play host for the two-day forum, the British newspaper reported. They will also have the opportunity to visit the city, including the 9/11 memorial.
Weighing in at 65,000 tons and carrying 700 sailors, the warship is Britain’s largest. She left port from Portsmouth in early September when sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, broke down near the Isle of Wight. The more recent carrier had been slated to host the event.
Earlier in the day, newly-minted Prime Minister Liz Truss addressed the UK’s “special” relationship with the US, saying that she intended to make it “even more special” in the next few years.
The Prime Minister was asked in a CNN interview about concerns among White House officials that she will not regard Britain’s relationship with the U.S. the way her predecessors did.
Truss answered the concern unequivocally. “I do think our relationship is special and it’s increasingly important at a time when we’re facing threats from Russia, increased assertiveness from China.”
“I’m personally a huge fan of the United States of America,” she went on. “It’s a country I’ve traveled often. It’s a country we share so many of the same values and core beliefs in. I’m determined that we make the special relationship even more special over the coming years, and we work with our friends and allies around the world.”
Had the Prince of Wales not broken down, it would have been the newer warship’s first time in New York since her commission by King Charles in 2019. Her size and weight are a tiny bit more than that of HMS Queen Elizabeth. She was scheduled to be at sea through the end of the year, for trials with Britain’s powerful new stealth jet, the F-35. But she sustained a major mechanical malfunction in the starboard shaft shortly after leaving port.
“This is a very unusual fault, and we continue to pursue all repair options. It is too early to say what the timetable is for rectifying the issue,” said defense procurement minister Alec Shelbrooke.
This particular fault may be the first of its kind on the Prince of Wales, but it has had its share of other problems, having flooded twice in 2020.
But then all aircraft carriers do have to undergo repairs from time to time. HMS Queen Elizabeth also suffered the expensive effect of flooding in 2017, when a faulty seal on a propeller shaft was found to have been letting water onboard at the rate of 200 liters per hour.
Captain Ian Feasey, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s commanding officer, spoke of the privilege of returning the ship to New York.
“It is an amazing privilege to bring HMS Queen Elizabeth back to New York and to be formally welcomed to the United States by His Majesty’s ambassador,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “We are very much looking forward to hosting the fifth Atlantic Future Forum and welcoming onboard senior leaders that embody our deep and special relationship with the United States.”
The ship will set sail again later this week to spend a season leading operations and exercises in European waters.
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