Carrier strike operations a step closer for Royal Navy

Topic: Fighting armsSurface Fleet

Another milestone has been reached in the UK’s return to carrier strike operations.

Personnel from five Royal Navy ships took part in the latest validation exercise, learning how to work as part of a battlegroup with the nation’s new aircraft carriers.

The UK Carrier Strike Group exercise was run by the US Navy and involved the French, Danish and German navies.

As well as personnel from HMS Queen Elizabeth, members of the ships’ companies from Prince of Wales, Type 45 destroyer’s HMS Dragon and Diamond and Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose, also took part.

Destroyers and frigates will be escorts for both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales when they deploy.

The Multi-National Fleet Synthetic Training Group Command Exercise was run from the Maritime Composite Training System site at HMS Collingwood.

Those taking part in the exercise were visited by Rear Admiral Patrick Piercey, Director for Operations US Pacific Command.

"It was an excellent opportunity to review concepts of operations at different threat levels for CSG operations. Key themes discussed focused on the need for range for the Carrier Air Wing and future operational environments,” said Colonel Philip Kelly RM, CSG Strike Warfare Commander.

“The Admiral had a very keen understanding of the challenges we both face and was impressed with UK CSG’s progress thus far. I think we the UKCSG will be a welcome addition to any allied force as we bring significant combat power.”

The Admiral also visited HMS Queen Elizabeth, touring the hangar and the ship’s Flyco, before stepping out onto the carrier’s four-acre flight deck.

Commander UKCSG Cdre Andrew Betton also briefed Admiral Piercey on the carrier regeneration programme and how the two Navies are working together.

“It’s a great opportunity to discuss the UK’s return to Carrier Strike operations and how we can build our close operational partnerships across the globe,” said Cdre Betton.

Following the exercise, Cdre Betton hosted Vice Admiral Tim Fraser, Chief of Joint Operations, visiting from Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood, aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Vice Admiral Fraser toured the aircraft carrier and met members of the Carrier Strike Group as he was updated on the development of carrier strike.

Last year the CSG brushed up their skills when they embarked in the USS George HW Bush for Exercise Saxon Warrior.

The build up of CSG has also seen experts from the US Navy and US Marine Corps help to train and mentor the COMUKCSG team, who have also worked closely with the RAF.

In the autumn of this year HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to deploy to the east coast of the USA for her first-of-class flying trials with the F-35B.

It’s a great opportunity to discuss the UK’s return to Carrier Strike operations and how we can build our close operational partnerships across the globe.

Commodore Andrew Betton