22,000-tonne HMS Ark Royal will replace HMS Illustrious next week as the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship

HMS Ark Royal will next week take over as the Royal Navy’s Fleet Flagship. She will also become the UK’s high-readiness aircraft carrier and the nation’s strike carrier, operating Harrier aircraft from the naval strike wing.

The 22,000-tonne vessel has successfully carried out trials and Basic Operational Sea Training since undergoing a seven-month refit last year.

Her commanding officer, Captain John Clink OBE, said, “It gives all in Ark Royal great pride to be assuming the mantle of Flagship of the Royal Navy and our duties as the nation’s Strike Aircraft Carrier.”

After Easter, Ark Royal will sail across the Atlantic to conduct a major multi-national exercise, and will also visit the Canadian port of Halifax to take part in the Canadian Navy’s centenary celebrations.

Ark Royal’s predecessor as Fleet Flagship, her sister ship HMS Illustrious, has relinquished her role in order to prepare for her own period of maintenance.