HMS Sutherland and HMS Iron Duke are escorting the Royal Navy’s largest ever warship as she conducts vital system tests off the coast of Scotland. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth left Rosyth, where she has been under construction since 2014, on Monday with 700 sailors and 200 industry contractors on board.

Type 23 frigates Sutherland and Iron Duke have now joined the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, along with Merlin Mk2 helicopters of the Fleet Air Arm, to guard the seas as the trials get under way.

Commander Andrew Canale, the Commanding Officer of HMS Sutherland, said:

“It is a huge honour for us all in HMS Sutherland to be the first ship to escort HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden sea voyage. This is a new chapter in the history of the Royal Navy in which our aircraft carriers will have the ability to project power globally for the next 50 years.

Everyone in HMS Sutherland is proud to be involved in this historic occasion. For me and all my ship’s company, seeing her on the ocean waves for the first time is a sight we will never forget.” 

The sea trials under way of the coast of Scotland are designed to test the carrier’s engines and propulsion systems, plus her ability to produce fresh water, cope with sewage, feed the crew, and supply those on board with electricity.

Lieutenant Dominic Rotherham, the flight observer of HMS Sutherland’s embarked Merlin Mk2 flight crew, said:

“Today we were tasked with securing the seas around HMS Queen Elizabeth to make sure she is safe to conduct her sea trials. As an observer in the Fleet Air Arm, seeing her from the air for the first time brought home to me the scale of the future flagship and the power she will represent overseas.  

It is a privilege to fly from HMS Sutherland’s flight deck, but I’m also excited to one day operate from HMS Queen Elizabeth.”

There were just 35cm either side of the carrier’s gigantic hull as she squeezed through the lock at Rosyth, and a mere 50cm separated the keel from the lock bottom as 11 tugs assisted Queen Elizabeth into the Forth before she began her maiden voyage.

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John martin

Well it is a start a very slow start.


Sounds great until you realise that HMS Sutherland is now sat in Rosyth and Iron Duke is in Newhaven already.. They were sent out for the photo op and then pulled straight back in!


No Harpoon on the second frigate in the picture above, which I assume is Iron Duke. Are we removing the system earlier than 2018 then? Not sure how it is supposed to protect the QE with a pop gun and helicopter.

Ian L

Notice that HMS Iron Duke is minus her Harpoon missile canisters(Look very closely at the above picture) not the most encouraging signs for the future carrier battle group!

Mike Saul

Definitely no harpoon missiles fitted on iron Duke as can be seen in this recent videos. Plenty of gpmgs though!

Peter Crisp

I assume these are looking for any sneaky Russian subs milling about.
We just got Boaty McBoatface back so he could join in the hunt as well.

Mr Bell

The RN could borrow my RIB if they are stuck for warships. Happy to lend it out, it has a set of oars and only a couple of patched up holes, now fixed courtesy of Halfords puncture repair kit.


Tory government would ask you to privatise it.


Do justify that.


if you can.

Peter Crisp

If worst comes to worst we can always hire it out as a party venue.
You could hold some pretty swanky parties on this.


I’m impressed that we managed to get 2 frigates involved for it. Now we just need maybe a 3rd frigate and a couple of destroyers and a supply ship and we have a carrier strike group….oh right and some planes / crowsnest.

I know it would be overkill to have a full escort for this journey, but it would have been a good show of power, considering the world is watching this and will stop caring in a few weeks.


Hey TH,have you been kicked out of your focus group or are your crap attempts at trolling this website some kind of masochism ? ?


why are there no type 45s on escort duty? isn’t that why they were built?

Nick Bowman

Good point, Steve. I’m sure there’s also an SSN keeping tabs but we can’t see that. Mike’s point about the Harpoons is well taken. The crushing irresponsibility of removing anti-ship missiles without adequate replacement is glaringly obvious.

Bloke down the pub

After their photo opportunity, Sutherland tied up alongside at Rosyth and Iron Duke in Leith, so not providing much protection whatever they’re armed with.


Well that lasted about a day. Long ago scurried back to port. Maybe they needed the crew for the QE….