HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group are taking part in Exercise Noble Union alongside American and Japanese warships.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, tweeted:

The #CSG21 is taking part in EX Noble Union, which sees Japan, US and CSG21 integrated and operating together. Supporting interoperability with like minded nations. Another demonstration of the flexibility of UK carrier strike.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is pictured here alongside the USS America and JS Ise.

Crown Copyright 2021.

The U.S. Navy say that Exercise Noble Union is part of a series of exercises which are used to test naval concepts, develop techniques and procedures for the employment of U.S. Marine Corps assets in support of sea denial and fleet maneuver, and inform future force design and experimentation efforts.

“The 31st MEU is operating aboard ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group in the 7th fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners, and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Additionally, the jets and warships of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group “unleashed their firepower during high-octane live firing exercises” on Pacific firing ranges recently.

Royal Navy carrier group ‘unleashes hell’ in Pacific

What is the UK Carrier Strike Group doing?

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the deployed flag ship for Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), a deployment that will see the ship and her escorts sail to the Asia-Pacific and back.

The Carrier Strike Group includes ships from the United States Navy, the Dutch Navy, and Marines from the US Marine Corps as well as air assets from 617 Sqn, 820 NAS, 815 NAS and 845 NAS.

Not shown is an Astute class submarine.

The Royal Navy say that the UK’s Carrier Strike Group will visit more than one fifth of the world’s nations. Led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, the task group will visit 40 nations including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore in a deployment covering 26,000 nautical miles.

“While in the Pacific, ships from the Carrier Strike Group will mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Agreement between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the UK by taking part in Exercise Bersama Lima. Joining HMS Queen Elizabeth on her maiden deployment are destroyers HMS Diamond and Defender; frigates HMS Richmond and Kent; an Astute-class submarine in support below the waves; and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.

More than 30 aircraft will also embark across the task group including F-35 jets from 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, and the US Marine Corps’ VMFA-211; Wildcat helicopters from 815 Naval Air Squadron and Merlin helicopters from 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons. Royal Marines from 42 Commando will also deploy with the carrier. Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen and American Arleigh Burke destroyer USS The Sullivans are also part of the strike group.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea with a mix of British and American jets.

Currently however, HMS Diamond isn’t with the group after suffering a defect. You can read more about that here. HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group will also undertake anti-submarine exercises whilst in the Pacific region.

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Steve
Steve
12 days ago

Would be nice to have something like JS Ise, be nice to have 2nd deck within the amphib force capable of emergency handling of F-35’s, especially as there would only ever be 1 QE class.

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Think that will come out of the replacement programme for Albion n Bulwark. When you look at the changes of future Commando force an LPH rather than LPD looks much more the way to go.

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Would rather have couple of LHD’s (Dokdo-class amphibious assault ship – Wikipedia), I think we need to keep the capability to use LCU’s to land equipment rather than just mexifloats bolted on the side of LSA’s, the addtional flght deck capacity would be better to allow the CHF to be carried with the RM rather than taking up strike a/c space.

Last edited 12 days ago by Steve
Paul.P
Paul.P
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Yeh, this is the $64,000 question. Is the Albion replacement an LPH or an LHD? Or if there is enough flat top area on the LSS ships will Albion and Bulwark be replaced at all? Do we want more than QE and POW to be able to project F-35B? Lots to think about.

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Don’t think anyone thinks a government will approve another QE Class. But maybe 4 20k Ton LHD’s to replace Albion & Bulwark and provide sea control East of Suez ?

Paul.P
Paul.P
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I see Africa as the next priority; Boko Haram in the Sahel, Daesh in Kenya, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, Islamic State in Somalia. I see QE or POW being frequently deployed of East Africa to provide strike and air support for friendlies and UK ‘Ranger’ battalions forward deployed. And LSS ships too where their helo reach is sufficient. Macron is weakening in his commitment to Mali. We are already helping with Chinook support. We need to send troops to strengthen the effort and stiffen his resolve. We can’t afford for a country like Nigeria to fall to Islamic… Read more »

Karl
Karl
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Once the Chicoms get a foothold in the Atlantic? We are fecked. Many African and South American countries would welcome Chinese money.

Paul.P
Paul.P
11 days ago
Reply to  Karl

China has already done a deal to lease a fishing harbour in Sierra Leone.
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/19/china-deal-to-build-a-fishing-harbor-in-sierra-leone-meets-resistance.html

Tams
Tams
11 days ago
Reply to  Karl

While thy are certainly a threat, they are already seeing backlash in some parts of Africa.

Typically corrupt governments there have done what they typically do and lined their pockets before even considering what their countries need. Hence railway lines no one really needs, etc.

So China are soon going to have to decide if they commit militarily more or not. And for the most part I don’t think they have the guts or will.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
11 days ago
Reply to  Tams

I must say the Kenyan Railways Mombassa to Nairobi line is excellent. Built with Chinese money and labour its fat better than the old line ever was and I have travelled on both.

That said there is a backlash against the Chinese influence in the country and also issues with the repayment of the incurred debt for the line… Which was the whole idea of doing the line improvement.

Frank62
Frank62
11 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Once hooked into crippling debt the CCP can bend most countries to their will. That is the whole point of their aid.

Dern
Dern
11 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Exactly the same can be said for the motorway from Kampala to the Airport, built by the Chinese, with Chinese money, far better than any of the other roads in Uganda, but again, issues with repayment, and backlash against Chinese exploitation of Ugandan resources.

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

We have one of the two Albion’s mothballed, when they go the replacement I suspect will be a single ship, highly unlikely to be 4. East of Suez is all about PR stunt and very little about having s viable military forcd there.

Anthony Chamberd
Anthony Chamberd
11 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Overwhelming the costs of ships is design. We already have the designs and fabrication processes for QE. It make a hell of a lot of sense to build another 4 at £1bn a pop.

Steve
Steve
11 days ago

Would it be that cheap? and the operating/crew costs etc, if you use Mistral size vessel it has crew of under 200 as opposed to 600+ for QE. You could have 3 hulls for less than half the prive and 4 crews and swap them around like the MCM crews

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
11 days ago
Reply to  Steve

200crew…no chance.
An LPD has a crew of 300 ish without the Royals and LCU crews added in and that is considered to be lean crewed for a ship of its size.
Even a lean crewed T23 has 180 on board give or take!

Steve
Steve
11 days ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

I maybe wrong but everything i found for Mistral says under 200 crew for the ship , then you have aircrews etc Mistral Class – Amphibious Assault Ships – Naval Technology (naval-technology.com)where as QE sasy 650+ plus avaition upto 1600

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 days ago
Reply to  Steve

The issue is what is required for a full aviation contingent. If you have helo’s you need all the helo trades. If you have F35B’s you need all the F35B trades. If you have UAV’s you will need all the UAV trades. Then you need a deck crew, armourers/weapons and a FLYCO and pilots/operators. All on top of whatever crew is needed for the hull, warfare, situational awareness and weapons systems. However you slice and dice it one you have multiple flying objects coming off one ship things get very complex very quickly. And the problem is that they only… Read more »

Dern
Dern
11 days ago

Good luck with that, Rosyth and Govan are building Type 31/26, Portsmouth closed, Appeldore and H&W practically unavailable, you’d have to redesign a distributed build into a CL single yard build… not going to happen.

Anthony Chambers
Anthony Chambers
10 days ago
Reply to  Dern

So your saying that UK ship builders don’t need more work and could not scale up to provide more capacity. That does not make a lot of sense. Anyway, if they cannot make more QE class ships how are they going to make more LHD’s?

Dern
Dern
10 days ago

I’m saying that replicating the QE’s for the same price tag as they where originally built at is currently impossible as several of the yards that built major sections of the carriers, including the one where the sections were assembled, are currently at capacity, and others are closed. You could expand them, but that would cost £££ and create another example of “boom bust” economies that the current shipbuilding strategy is trying to avoid. Of the available yards: Cammel Laird and Appledore lack construction facilities to build a ship, the size of QE, and H&W Belfast lacks the workforce which… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Yeah looks right.

Frank62
Frank62
11 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Truth is we need both.

Dennis Leighton
Dennis Leighton
15 hours ago
Reply to  Steve

Not sure I understand what you mean Steve. The Prince of Wales has already been launched and is busy working up to operational status. Interestingly, the Royal Navy has built and commissioned two 65 000 ton carriers faster than the US could produce the planes required to fly off them! Also, between them, the two carriers could put more planes in the air than a US Gerald Ford class carrier, and together cost considerably less to produce!!

maurice10
maurice10
12 days ago

This is the future if the international shipping trade routes are to remain open. Sadly, exclusive portage will be another issue and more difficult to control. In the long term, permanent stationing of a RN carrier group in the Far East can not be ruled out. However, the prospect of that happening is dependant on how serious free trade routes are challenged. Instead of a QE Class being stationed East, a large vessel capable of supporting possibly, six F35’s and a selection of helicopters could be an alternative (HMS Ocean concept springs to mind)? The increasing use of drones in… Read more »

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Agree, some situations a jack of all is better for peacetime showing the flag / policing type work is better rather using up combat resources meaning they require more maintenance periods due to constant long deployments.

Last edited 12 days ago by Steve
John Clark
John Clark
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

What an amazing sight, great to see the RN back in the proper flat top business 👌

Tommo
Tommo
12 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Alas no caps and traps though no way to launch a piano

John Clark
John Clark
12 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Good point 👍

Tommo
Tommo
12 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Peter Cook and Durley Moore on our last Cats and traps HMS Ark Royal 1976 I don’t recall the whaler recovering the said Piano

Frank62
Frank62
11 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

VSTOL Steinway?

Tommo
Tommo
8 days ago
Reply to  Frank62

With Pedal assisted stabilisers sounds Grand Could work will have to engage with Defence committee for possible funding their reply would insist on man-made Keys though

maurice10
maurice10
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Yes, a good description, as this vessel could have significant lethality but would mainly be a central command for trade route policing and possible illegal blockades? Using one of the new Marine vessels would waste capability. In many ways, Ocean was a successful concept by using commercial standards as opposed to strict naval construction disciplines, thus reducing design and build time. I do fear a stepping up of ocean harassment not just for naval ships but also commercial shipping. The only way to curb such behaviour is to be bloody-minded and an ever-present force.

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Yes a couple of low level warfare vessels would be good to act like the LSA in gulf as mothership would be great but i can’t see Westminster ever forking out for 2 LHD’s to replace the LPD’s AND couple of Ocean type vessels (with small Well dock) oh well i’ll wake up in a minute

Steve
Steve
11 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

The issue is could anyone, including the USN, actually stop China closing areas of the South China sea if they wanted to. The availability of ships/planes/denial of access missiles, available to China means that even a multinational coalition would struggle, and that is today, with China growing it’s capability at a alarming rate. I suspect the best hope is to keep a peaceful ecomonic relationships, to ensure that China doesn’t have a economic desire to close the region (harms them economically by doing so). The question is whether public opinion in the US will force their government to put sanctions… Read more »

Steve
Steve
11 days ago
Reply to  Steve

The problem is Western Society has given in to cheap goods made in China, the mass manufacturing base in the west is nearly dead as has proved with Co-Vid when China stops making the west is stuff for everday goods. The flip side is the western people have the power to influence China probably more than goverments aka (STOP BUYING made in China) whether that be making sure you buy from other countries and pay bit more or re-use/repair goods. I expect a concerted purchase change by people stopping the purchases would have china feeling it within few months.

Last edited 11 days ago by Steve
Steve
Steve
11 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Thats my thinking too, as long as the west don’t back China into a corner, they will just continue to flex but out of ecomonic necessity will continue to behave. Unlike the USSR, the Chinese people have got used to western goods and services, the Chinese government would have serious issues if it did anything to stop them having them goods.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
11 days ago
Reply to  Steve

Err yes they could stop them. It depends on how much you want to stop them and how far are you willing to go.

Western subs against China’s subs and surface fleet would be a Western win. Look at the video recently released of the USN Sinkex conducted against an OHP frigate. The torpedo at the end is why Subs with torpedoes are ship killers not ASMs.

After the surface fleet and sub threat has gone then the sea lanes would be open to any surface units to take action anywhere on the Chinese coast or islands.

Andy P
Andy P
12 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

I can understand the idea of a ‘small carrier’ but you end up with a token presence for a lot of cost. 6 F35’s will need a lot of maintainers, probably not much less than a dozen F35’s and if you assume that (back of a fag packet logic) maybe a third are out for one reason or another, at least for peace time ops then you don’t have much capability for your buck and that’s what it comes down to. Even the US are starting o count the defence dollar. The UK can’t sustain a carrier ‘east of Suez’… Read more »

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Agree we would need 5 QE class if we wanted to maintain 1 East of Suez permanently. just think 3 or 4 small(20k) LHD that can operate F-35b / Helo’s and especially with UAV/USV & UUWV would give a good sea control/ humanitarian/ SF support options in far off places and be able to support RM LPDs

Andy P
Andy P
12 days ago
Reply to  Steve

What you’re talking about would be a massive increase in the naval (ie MOD) budget and I can’t see it being a good use of any increase in that budget. We seem to be going for the RIvers as our advanced presence and other units to back up as required. Seems like an ‘economical’ way to do things. If the money becomes available then we’ll see what happens but I’d be shocked if it involved F35 capable units dotted around, it requires hardened decks and a lot of skilled personnel. Certainly long term its going to be all about the… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

It is much more likely that you would have something Ocean(esque) that would launch UAV’s and Helo’s and not F35B’s. I don’t see it being built down to commercial standards but up to Class standards at about the level of the FSS. Hopefully it would be fast enough to move with QEC’s and have a flood-able deck as well….. Personally I see it as very likely RN get five of something like that in place of the Bays and Albions. OK it is a big cut from the original 1 x Ocean (built) 1 x Ocean (cancelled) + 2 x… Read more »

maurice10
maurice10
12 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

The reality is clear, 20th Century solutions would question the need for naval assets in the Far East, and rightly so, but the wind of change in this new century is calling for bolder action. The reason we are currently in the South China Seas is to make local powers wake up and smell the coffee. In truth, the UK doesn’t have the comfort of choice, we either continue with the current policy or retreat to home shores. Thus allowing future supply and trade to be compromised to the point of strangulation. After the current QE operations and the fleet… Read more »

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
12 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

Agreed. Excellent comment.

Andy P
Andy P
12 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

“The reason we are currently in the South China Seas is to make local powers wake up and smell the coffee.” Is it ? Colour me cynical but I doubt The Philippines (for example) will be invigored by a country sending their first major deployment half way round the world to stick 2 fingers up at China to sail all the way back and give themselves a BZ. Meanwhile, back at the ranch….. Yes its given a small F U to China and I’ve no problem with the UK doing it but lets not pretend this is something that anyone… Read more »

maurice10
maurice10
12 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Interesting viewpoint Andy P, but sadly, the situation is serious and the US knows it has to stand up to the plate and demonstrate a tough stance over Chinese and Russian oceanic ambitions. As I said, the growing tensions will draw many countries into a compact of naval cooperation, with the US and UK taking a leading role, supported by Japan, Australia, and New Zealand to name a few.

Paul C
Paul C
11 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

I think your position is realistic one. People are getting carried away with fantasy fleets when the budgetary position is a precarious one. You have to ask how long the current modest uplift in spending will last and if globally deployed LHDs (with or without F35Bs) is a sensible use of the money. Enough irons, and expensive ones at that, in the fire already. IMHO a substantive RN commitment to the Far East is probably not on the cards. More likely the chest-beating over ‘Global Britain’ will moderate over time. Then we will settle for a low-key, low-cost and no… Read more »

Dern
Dern
11 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

I mean the UK is having a permanent deployment in that part of the world, say what you want about Tamar and Spey but they’re permanently based in the far east, the first time since the 1960’s the RN has done that.

So when you combine the two, that’s a pretty clear indication of intent.

David Steeper
David Steeper
11 days ago
Reply to  Dern

Yep. With Type 31’s to follow.

Andy P
Andy P
11 days ago
Reply to  Dern

I agree Dern, having the small presence out there is no bad thing, can even be of assistance with disasters and good PR when operating with local forces. We should be getting a lot of good use out of the Rivers over the next 20 years or so.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
12 days ago

Thanks for keeping us updated on progress of CSG21.
They look like they are having a great time working alongside our allies.

Paul.P
Paul.P
12 days ago

Three allies, 3 flat tops, all F-35B capable. Just in case you hadn’t noticed what a game changing platform Dave is.

Mark WALLACE
Mark WALLACE
12 days ago

A sight spelling error in the Headline “Exercise Nobile Union”, I think the proper title is more Noble!

PaulW
PaulW
12 days ago

Is Diamond still missing? That’s a big chunk of AAW cover to operate without.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
12 days ago
Reply to  PaulW

I was wondering that. One of her GT engines failed on 7 July. Suely she just needs an Intercooler swap-out. Why is that taking so long?
PIP is a seperate matter.

Whiteblade
Whiteblade
12 days ago

I can recognise all of the ships in the top photo, but what’s the ship in the far back?

Steve
Steve
12 days ago
Reply to  Whiteblade
Gunbuster
Gunbuster
10 days ago
Reply to  Steve

I am looking at one alongside here right now. 4 x Cobras on the flight deck and a regular Huey and the 2 LCACs have just exited the dock to do a bit of very loud manoeuvring in and around the berths.

You absolutely cannot do anything stealthy with an LCAC…its just to loud and blows a cloud of water up around it.

Masterblaster
Masterblaster
12 days ago
Reply to  Whiteblade

Ignore me, I was wrong.

Last edited 12 days ago by Masterblaster
Skipoz
Skipoz
11 days ago

Would also be nice to see an Oz Canberra class LHD & Hobart DDG in the group shot too, but may be a bit too much for us right now!

Jason Holmes
Jason Holmes
11 days ago

That’s an awesome image, great for ship spotters too!

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
10 days ago

I would think the future uk ships have to be built with can be operated as built in, flat tops seem a no brainer but time will tell. Give them the ability to operate f35 Dave, a well deck, drones, etc etc. They don’t have to do it but with the knowledge they can and give occasional demonstration. Really uk forces are short of abilities to expand into this. Need a rise in helicopters for a start that means pilots, maintainers and training, drone operators and the maintainers etc, small boats, landing craft to operate from the well deck, vehicles… Read more »

Anthony Chambers
Anthony Chambers
10 days ago

Just build more QE class. They are cheap and incredibly useful.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
10 days ago

I would they could be a bit expensive and crew hungry and limited without well deck etc etc. And perhaps too large.

Dern
Dern
9 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

They also can’t be built at the current time, as I pointed out to Anthony above.