HMS Queen Elizabeth leads new strike group at sea for the first time

Britannia rules the waves once more: HMS Queen Elizabeth leads flotilla of nine ships as Royal Navy’s new carrier strike group assembles at sea for first time

  • The £3billion aircraft carrier led flotilla of nine ships as new carrier strike group assembled at sea for first time
  • The group of ships, which include those from UK, US and the Netherlands, gathered in North Sea off Scotland
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth also embarked two squadrons of F-35B stealth jets, including the UK’s 617 Squadron

These images show Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth leading the largest and most powerful task force assembled by a European Navy in almost 20 years.

The £3billion aircraft carrier – the joint largest in the Royal Navy’s history – was the crown jewel in a flotilla of nine ships which form the UK’s new Carrier Strike Group.

Yesterday it assembled at sea for the first time off the north east coast of Scotland as part of Joint Warrior – NATO’s largest annual exercise.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier led the flotilla of destroyers and frigates from the UK, US and the Netherlands, together with two Royal Fleet Auxiliaries. 

In total, 3,000 personnel from the UK, US and Netherlands were involved. 

These images show Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth (pictured centre) leading the most powerful task force assembled by an European Navy in almost 20 years

The £3billion aircraft carrier (pictured centre), which, along with its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, is the largest in the Royal Navy’s history, was the crown jewel in a flotilla of nine ships which make up a new carrier strike group

Today the task force, including HMS Queen Elizabeth (pictured) assembled at sea for the first time off the north east coast of Scotland as part of Joint Warrior – NATO’s largest annual exercise

What was the Royal Navy’s new Carrier Strike Group made up of?

HMS Queen Elizabeth – Royal Navy Aircraft carrier

HMS Diamond – Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer

HMS Defender – Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer

USS The Sullivans – US Navy Destroyer

HMS Northumberland – Royal Navy Frigate

HMS Kent – Royal Navy Frigate

HNLMS Eversten – Royal Netherlands Navy Frigate

RFA Tideforce – Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ships

RFA Fort Victoria – Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ships

Meanwhile, HMS Queen Elizabeth embarked two squadrons of F-35B stealth jets, the UK’s 617 Squadron and US Marine Corps fighter attack squadron 211.

Alongside eight Merlin helicopters of 820 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons, it is the largest air group to operate from a Royal Navy carrier in more than thirty years, and the largest air group of fifth generation fighters at sea anywhere in the world, say the Royal Navy.

The task force meanwhile is the largest assembled by an European Navy in almost 20 years.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said: ‘The new UK Carrier Strike Group is the embodiment of British maritime power, and sits at the heart of a modernised and emboldened Royal Navy.

‘Protected by a ring of advanced destroyers, frigates, helicopters and submarines, and equipped with fifth generation fighters, HMS Queen Elizabeth is able to strike from the sea at a time and place of our choosing; and with our Nato allies at our side, we will be ready to fight and win in the most demanding circumstances.

‘Carrier Strike offers Britain choice and flexibility on the global stage. It reassures our friends and allies and presents a powerful deterrent to would-be adversaries.’ 

The Carrier Strike Group includes NATO’s most sophisticated destroyers – the Royal Navy’s Type 45s HMS Diamond and HMS Defender and US Navy Arleigh Burke-class USS The Sullivans.

It also contains frigates HMS Northumberland and HMS Kent from the UK and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Evertsen.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier led the flotilla of destroyers and frigates from the UK, US and the Netherlands, together with two Royal Fleet Auxiliaries

HMS Queen Elizabeth embarked two squadrons of F-35B stealth jets, the UK’s 617 Squadron and US Marine Corps fighter attack squadron 211

Commodore Steve Moorhouse (pictured), Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said: ‘The new UK Carrier Strike Group is the embodiment of British maritime power, and sits at the heart of a modernised and emboldened Royal Navy

They will not only protect the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers from enemy ships, submarines, aircraft and missiles, but are also capable of conducting a range of supporting missions, from maritime security to disaster relief.

Meanwhile, two Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, RFA Tideforce and RFA Fort Victoria, will supply fuel, food, spares and ammunition, to enabled sustained operations from the sea without host nation support.

Commander Vince Owen, Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, said: ‘Providing air and missile defence to a Carrier Strike Group is exactly the task HMS Defender and the Type 45 has been designed to do.

‘Having previously supported the French aircraft carrier FGS Charles de Gaulle in the fight against ISIL in 2015 and more recently been part of the USS Abraham Lincoln task group as she transited through the Strait of Hormuz last year, it is exciting to be integrating HMS Defender into the UK-led Carrier Strike Group for the first time.

‘Having just successfully completed a period of Basic Operational Sea Training over the summer, the men and women that make up my ship’s company are motivated and ready to take part in the next stage of our training in preparation for deploying with the Carrier Strike Group next year.’

Cdr Rick Ongering, Commanding Officer of HNLMS Evertsen, added: ‘The Royal Netherlands Navy and the Royal Navy have been very close maritime partners for decades.

‘Our marines have been working together through the UK-Netherlands Amphibious Force for almost fifty years and our ships regularly undertake Fleet Operational Sea Training in the UK.

‘However, the opportunity to accompany HMS Queen Elizabeth is a new experience and HNLMS Evertsen is excited to be working with the UK Carrier Strike Group during Exercise Joint Warrior this October.’

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