HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares for maiden deployment

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Christine Alsford

(Helicopter pictures courtesy of MoD/Crown Copyright)

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to leave Portsmouth this weekend on her maiden deployment. 

Tonnes of kit and equipment are being loaded aboard, as the aircraft carrier heads up the biggest group of naval warships to deploy internationally since the 1980s.

The £3 billion warship, with eight fighter jets on board, will depart for Asia accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.

The Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which will carry out visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, will include the US destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares for maiden deployment. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Commodore Steve Moorhouse says it is a huge logistical challenge.

He says: "It will go right up until the last minute I'm absolutely sure. On board it's a hive of activity, stores of equipment from food to ammunition, everything has got to be put away and secured for sea."

The UK's Carrier Strike Group will visit more than one fifth of the world's nations when it sails.

Led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, the task group will cover around 26,000 nautical miles.