Royal Navy news: HMS Queen Elizabeth departure sparks fears UK will be ‘tied’ | UK | News (Reports)

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Thousands of sailors will depart Portsmouth in early 2021 as part of the task force accompanying the 64,000-tonne aircraft carrier. The largest and most powerful warship ever built for the Royal Navy will be flanked by two frigates, support vessels and two Type 45 destroyers.

The vessel could also potentially be accompanied by a hunter-killer submarine when it sets sail from the navy base.

Details about the massive operation released by the Royal Navy have given way to fears that the Senior Service could be short of manpower.

Many believe the deployment of thousands of sailors would mean the navy is less able to respond effectively to crises elsewhere.

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Lord Frank Judd raised the matter in the House of Lords this week.

He questioned the force’s ability to respond to situations while a huge chunk of its sailors would be tied up with the operation.

During a debate, he asked: “What are the implications for our flexibility and speed of response, and for the role that must be played by the Royal Navy in such a response, if something arises elsewhere in the world?

“Will we become a bit tied and muscle-bound by where we are down there if we do not have the flexibility to respond elsewhere?”

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Defence minister Baroness Annabel Goldie responded by saying the navy would have the capacity to cope with whatever situations arise.

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The massive ship is home to five gyms, a medical centre and a chapel.

Baroness Goldie refused to say whether HMS Queen Elizabeth would sail into the South China Sea when it undertakes its maiden voyage.

The hotly-contested waters are the focus of an international row about navigational rights.

US Democratic presidential nominee, who is tipped to become president, has warned of an “actual conflict” breaking out over the disputed waters.

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President Donald Trump has sent US vessels into the region in an attempt to deter Chinese forces.

China has been building military bases on artificial islands in the waters for years.

Washington has long opposed Beijing’s actions but has stopped short of calling them illegal.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contest China’s claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

UK defence chiefs are under pressure to send the Royal Navy’s most powerful warship into the South China Sea as the international dispute drags on.

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