HMS Illustrious has left Portsmouth as she heads to Gibraltar for a routine visit after increased tensions with Spain over border checks.
The ships will be taking part in what defence officials have said is a long-scheduled deployment codenamed Cougar '13 in the Mediterranean and the Gulf.
More top news
Thursday morning's weather for the west of the region
Thursday morning's weather for the east of the region
More than 200 guns were handed in to police during a regional gun amnesty this month.