Join Britain's biggest-ever warship for the voyage of a lifetime. It's May 2021 and HMS Queen Elizabeth - higher than Nelson's Column, longer than the Houses of Parliament, and weighing in at 65,000 tons - is about to set sail on her first-ever operational mission.
Ahead is a gruelling seven-month voyage through the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, to the South China Sea.
The £3.5 billion warship carries 18 F35 stealth jet fighters, the most lethal warplane ever designed, plus a squadron of state-of-the-art anti-submarine Merlin helicopters. On-board the gigantic aircraft carrier is a ship's company of 1,600 men and women, including 300 US Marines and aviators.
This deployment to the other side of an increasingly-troubled world will be a demonstration of Britain’s new naval strength to friends and foes alike. Locked, loaded, and ready for any challenge, HMS Queen Elizabeth is leading a task force of 7 destroyers and frigates to protect her and two supply ships to keep her topped up with fuel and stores.
The most powerful task force to leave UK shores since the Falklands War will soon need to flex its considerable muscle in the face of escalating international tension and aggression.
The ship's company, recruited from 23 countries across the Commonwealth, has an average age of just 24. Many of these young sailors have never been to sea before with no idea what to expect. We meet chef Ronnie Lambert from Essex, admin staffer Helayna Birkett from the Wirral, and Sub Lieutenant John Hawke from Cheltenham.
We’re also introduced to senior officers such as the cool-headed Commander Chris Ansel and the grizzled Commodore Steve Moorhouse. These are just a few of the many compelling characters we’ll get to know well through this arduous, exciting, demanding and ever-surprising deployment into the unknown.
In this first episode the Queen Elizabeth is being shadowed by Russian spy ships in the Mediterranean, testing her weapons and preparing her crew for what lies ahead. Landing in Sicily for their first run ashore, most on-board get a chance to party. It is their last opportunity to relax before entering the eastern Mediterranean, Russia's back yard.
The Warship begins Sunday 22nd January on BBC Two.