As we prepare to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth to Portsmouth for the first time Exercise Saxon Warrior has offered an unparalleled opportunity for the Royal Navy to rehearse the coordination of the various ships, aircraft and submarines that will form the UK's Carrier Strike Group.

Commodore Andrew Betton

The fortnight-long exercise saw the COMUKTG staff work with their American counterparts to fight off a series of simulated threats from enemy forces. The threats were specifically designed to test the UK personnel’s reactions for coordinating a response and were coordinated from Clyde Naval Base in Faslane, Scotland.

The exercise staff from the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) provided scenarios which ranged from defeating enemy forces in the air, on land, and on and under the sea, to rescuing downed airmen, and ensuring the freedom of merchant and pleasure craft to use the seas.

Exercise Director, Captain Andrew Stacey said: “Exercise Saxon Warrior is an incredibly important and exciting step in the regeneration of the UK’s Carrier Strike capability.

"For my team, Saxon Warrior represents the culmination of a long planning process and also marks the first step in a busy future of UK Carrier Strike Group training.”

Exercise activity was centered around the scenario of a conflict between neighbouring countries – one supported by a multinational naval force and Carrier Strike Group, the other by frigates, destroyers, submarines and land-based aircraft.

Supporting aircraft also simulated air raids with 29 Commando and Swedish tactical air controllers providing forward observation to ships and aircraft dropping ordnance on Cape Wrath in the far north of Scotland.

COMUKCSG Strike Warfare Commander Colonel Phil Kelly RM said: “We also had the great opportunity to fly over and land on HMS Queen Elizabeth, our new aircraft carrier.

It was emotional - this has been a long time coming and something we will never forget - that seminal moment that you step out on the deck at sea of the UK's newest aircraft carrier after having landed on for the first time.

“We look forward to her arriving in Portsmouth so we can deepen the COMUKCSG links with her crew and settle in to working with her as a matter of routine - exciting times.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to enter her new home in Portsmouth on Wednesday 16 August 2017.

The 65,000-tonne carrier, the biggest warship ever to be built in Britain, has been undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Scotland's Rosyth dockyard in June.

She is now set to make her historic arrival into Portsmouth on Wednesday at approximately 0710 where she will be the latest in a long line of famous Royal Navy ships to call the port home.

HMNB Portsmouth

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