The seven-month global deployment will stretch across the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean and the Indo-Pacific, interacting with more than a fifth of the world’s countries.
Britain’s new flagship aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead six Royal Navy ships, one Royal Navy submarine, one US Navy destroyer and one Dutch frigate in the most great concentration of sea and air power to leave the UK in a generation.
Her Majesty The Queen visited her eponymous ship – which she commissioned in 2017 – this morning before the aircraft carrier left Portsmouth, meeting the crew and wishing them good luck in what will be a once in a lifetime experience.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also among those who visited HMS Queen Elizabeth ahead of her departure, joined on Friday by Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace, First Lord of the Sea, Admiral Tony Radakin and Chief of Air Force Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston on the flight. platform.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said:
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group sets sail today to write Britain’s name in the next chapter of history – a truly global Britain stepping forward to meet the challenges of tomorrow, working hand in hand with our friends to defend our common values ââand uphold the rules-based international order.
This deployment shows that we are strong alone, but that we are stronger with our allies. I want to join the nation in wishing the crews of the carrier strike group every success in their departure for this truly historic endeavor.
In a projection of the UK’s global reach and influence, the Carrier Strike Group will interact with more than 40 countries during its 26,000 nautical mile global tour, undertaking more than 70 engagements, exercises and operations with allies and partners.
As noted in the recently released Defense Command document, the Carrier Strike Group is a demonstration of the UK’s commitment to stand ready to face future threats alongside international partners and help seize new opportunities. for world Britain.
Underlining the UK’s leading role in NATO, the Carrier Strike Group will participate in NATO’s Exercise Steadfast Defender in the coming days. The task force will also provide support to the Alliance’s Operation Sea Guardian and maritime security operations in the Black Sea while deployed.
Alongside another key NATO ally, the Carrier Strike Group will be joined by the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle for a period of dual carrier operations in the Mediterranean.
In the Indo-Pacific, the Carrier Strike Group will visit India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Singapore to strengthen Britain’s security relationship, strengthen political ties and support our UK exports and program. of international trade.
Elements of the Carrier Strike Group will also participate in Exercise Bersama Lima to mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defense Agreements between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The next chapter in UK carriers’ strike capacity
The deployment is primarily focused on regenerating the strike capability of the UK’s aircraft carriers – a decade-long journey that now enters its next chapter.
It comes after the Prime Minister announced in November an increase in defense funding of over Â£ 24 billion over the next four years, allowing our armed forces to adapt to face future threats.
The Strike Group’s state-of-the-art platforms are expertly operated by 3,700 members of the British, US and Dutch armed forces, including a company of Royal Marines Commandos.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful surface ship in the history of the Royal Navy. A true achievement for British industry, it was built by a cast of over 10,000 people, including over 800 apprentices, in six shipyards from the banks of the Clyde to the docks of the River Torridge.
A fleet of Type 45 surface destroyers, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, as well as RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary join it.
The US Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Evertsen will be fully integrated for the duration of the deployment.
On the aircraft carrier’s flight deck are eighteen state-of-the-art F-35B fast jets, operated by the RAF and Royal Navy 617 Squadron, and the United States Marine Corps – the largest quantity of fifth-generation Lightning jets ever launched. Alongside the jets, four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters – the largest number of helicopters assigned to a single British operational group in a decade.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said:
As the Carrier Strike Group sets sail, a new phase begins in the British maritime renaissance. A year of exercises and over a decade of preparation is over. HMS Queen Elizabeth, her escorts and aircraft will now begin the largest peacetime deployment in a generation.
It is the privilege of my career to lead 3,700 Sailors, Airmen and Marines of the United Kingdom, United States and the Netherlands for the next seven and a half months. On their behalf, I want to thank all of the government, military and industry who have worked so hard to get us to the starting line and will continue to support us when we are away. Most importantly, I would like to thank our families. I am convinced that these young men and women will make you proud.