By Sue Hardie

The Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has arrived and departed from Glen Mallan in Loch Long as part of final preparations before her first operational deployment.

Sailing in along the Firth of Clyde, the 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier has spent the last two weeks at sea testing and trialling her latest equipment, before berthing at the new Northern Ammunition Jetty for a routine on-load of operational stores.

These stores are housed in bunkers which have been built into the hills, initially at Glen Douglas between Loch Long and Loch Lomond.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of the Royal Navy’s fleet to visit the new £64 million facility at Glen Mallan, built by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

Operated by Defence Equipment and Support through Defence Munitions, the Northern Ammunition Jetty is specifically designed to support the surface fleet, allowing them to continue entering and berthing at Glen Mallan. 

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “HMS Queen Elizabeth has a very proud affiliation to Scotland and it is only fitting she returns before her first operational deployment later this year.

“The £64m investment into the new Northern Ammunition Jetty reaffirms our commitment to supporting our core capabilities and defence estate across all corners of the UK.” 

Captain Angus Essenhigh, HMS Queen Elizabeth Commanding Officer, said:  “We are very proud of the close connection our ship has with Scotland.

“HMS Queen Elizabeth embodies the best of British engineering and craftsmanship, including Scottish shipbuilding, and it is a privilege to return to her birthplace of Scotland.”

DIO project works undertaken include: the installation of four new navigational aids to ensure safe passage through the confined waterway in Loch Long, two new modular fender spacer units that move with the tide to prevent the aircraft carrier flight deck from coming in to contact with the jetty and the installation of dolphin mooring points to ensure the aircraft can be securely berthed.

Craig MacDonald, DIO’s Project Manager, said:“It is fantastic to have HMS Queen Elizabeth berthed at Glen Mallan for the first time.

“DIO previously worked closely with contractors and local partners to ensure vital infrastructure upgrades were completed in time to prepare for the visit and I would like to thank everyone involved.”

This is the first time HMS Queen Elizabeth has visited Western Scotland, after she initially became a familiar sight on the River Forth where she was assembled.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to sail for Portsmouth at the end of the month, and will deploy to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and East Asia later this year, as part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group.

Prime Minister Boris Johnston and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on a visit to HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane and Coulport.

By Rory Murphy

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has outlined the result of the ‘Defence Command Paper’, a white paper outlining the shape and size of the British military over the years to come.

You can read ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘ for yourself here, below is a brief summary of the main points broken down by service.

Royal Navy

British Army

  • The British Army will be reduced in size, to 72,500 regular personnel by 2025, with no change in reserves.
  • 77 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks will be retired, with the remaining 148 upgraded to Challenger 3.
  • The planned Warrior upgrade will be cancelled, and instead the vehicles will be retired upon the introduction of Boxer in the mid-2020s.
  • £250 million will be invested in Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS).
  • £800 million will be invested in a new automated fires platform.
  • The Infantry will be restructured into four new administrative divisions.
  • A new four-battalion Ranger Regiment will be formed, from the Royal Scots Borderers; 2nd Battalion, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment; 2nd Battalion, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment; and 4th Battalion, The Rifles. The new regiment will sit within a newly-formed Army Special Operations Brigade.
  • A new Global Readiness Force will be formed, consisting of a newly formed 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, and 16 Air Assault Brigade, the latter of which will be reinforced by a further infantry unit.
  • The British Army will be re-organised into 7 self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) – two heavy, two light, one deep strike, one air maneuvre, and one combat aviation.
  • The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Mercian Regiment will be amalgamated.
  • Security Force Assistance Brigade will be formed to assist and train partner nations.
  • Manning will increase in the areas of electronic warfare, air defence, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • 23 Gazelle, 20 Puma, and 5 Bell 212 will be replaced by a new medium-lift helicopter.

Royal Air Force


  • £200 million will be invested in enhanced electronic warfare & signals intelligence capability.
  • £6.6 billion will be invested into space over the next 4 years.

You can read greater detail from the Ministry of Defence here, including the paper.



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