HMS Prince of Wales will lead a carrier strike group of eight ships – four of them British, including frigate HMS Somerset and two Tide-class tankers from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – supported by US, Spanish and Danish vessels.

According to the Royal Navy here, they form one of the most potent naval forces of the exercise – an allied fleet of 40 vessels, drawn from more than two dozen nations, committed to the seagoing element of Steadfast Defender, which will take place off Norway’s Arctic coast from late February into March.

“The carrier brings the capability of her F-35B Lightning stealth fighters from 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron at RAF Marham, submarine hunting and airborne early warning Merlin Mk2 helicopters from RNAS Culdrose, and battlefield Wildcat helicopters of 847 Naval Air Squadron from RNAS Yeovilton.

Before heading for Norwegian waters, HMS Prince of Wales is conducting a week’s training in the North Sea with her air group to hone the skills of the 780-strong ship’s company – plus nearly 600 men and women embarked with the F-35s and helicopters.”

Commodore James Blackmore, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group and in overall charge of the ship, her air power and escorts, was quoted as saying:

“I cannot emphasise enough how much hard work has been required over the last week to put us in the position we are now in with an ability to sail HMS Prince of Wales as part of my Carrier Strike Group. My admiration and thanks extend not only to the sailors onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, but also their families, and our contractor partners ashore and the wider team at HMNB Portsmouth that have worked so diligently over the past week. That myself and my battlestaff are now afloat in an aircraft carrier that was preparing for a substantial maintenance package just seven days ago is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the professionalism, commitment, and good humour of all involved.”

Once the work-up is complete, the Prince of Wales task group will move to the High North and Exercise Nordic Response – the maritime element of Steadfast Defender – with the emphasis on protecting northern Norway, Sweden and Finland to defend the Nordic nations from ‘attack’.

Commodore Blackmore added:

“We all now turn our eyes fully to Steadfast Defender as we prepare to join up with other NATO ships and embark the aircraft, including Lightning F-35B, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, that make a carrier strike group such a potent and unique military capability. The UK has an unwavering commitment to NATO and collective deterrence and defence of the Euro-Atlantic region. There is no better demonstration of that than HMS Prince of Wales being at the heart of the upcoming NATO maritime exercises; the largest in over 40 years.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Ex_Service
Ex_Service
1 month ago

So a singular frigate and no destroyers in the RN available to escort the carrier.

Kudos MoD and all the HMGs for that right royal stuff up eroding RN over the many years. Bravo Zulu.

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Ex_Service

I do believe this is more of a Cooperative Exorcise though, the CSG will still consist of 8 ships out of the 40 plus going…. marine tracker showed two dutch, two British and one German Frigate off Plymouth earlier although the names seem to alter daily.

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

Norwegian and Canadian Frigates as well. The area South and South West of Plymouth has quite a fleet building up.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Ex_Service

While I agree we should have at least one T23 and one T45 to escort the carrier, the point of these NATO exercises is stress testing interoperability between NATO partners.

Redshift
Redshift
1 month ago
Reply to  Ex_Service

What an original comment.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Ex_Service

And no subs either?

Tom
Tom
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

There always is but it’s never specified for obvious OPSEC reasons.

Mike Barrett
Mike Barrett
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

They don’t discuss subs, ever. I would expect at least one of ours and a minimum of 4 in total ( one sub for every 10 warships).

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Ex_Service

It should be a very interesting exercise!

12.02.2024

“Vladimir Putin’s nuclear bombers – nicknamed ‘Bears’ – today flew over north of Britain in the Norwegian Sea. Footage from the Russian defence ministry shows the aircraft the Tu-95MS during war game drills. Nato air forces scrambled warplanes to monitor the flights which lasted five hours.”

maurice10
maurice10
1 month ago

This has to be the way forward if the West is to counter the threat from the East. Maybe the fallout from this exercise will help to strengthen combined operations.

Callum
Callum
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

I’d actually argue the opposite; for the past few decades the overriding assumption that the individual European nations would only really operate as a group has lead to most nations running their forces down to bare minimums with little consideration given that the partners we’re all depending on would struggle to generate a force and don’t always share our aims.

Cooperation and interoperability are crucial to a wider war effort, but the current model of cobbling forces together severely restricts our ability to do anything in the first place. We need capable independent forces that can come together as needed.

Bob
Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Callum

This.

grizzler
grizzler
1 month ago
Reply to  Callum

I agree with the first statement as ultimately the Royal Navy need more ships regardless of how/where they are deployed, however I’m not sure how that dovetails into the interoperability aspects – where is the line drawn between a capable singular defence and the interoperabilty requirement when additional strength is needed. We have two big carriers but not the fleet to escort them alongside other commitments – t’was always known that was going to be the case. Ultimately its more like a European Navy- which is fine – as long as that is accepted and works , and that european… Read more »

John quigley
John quigley
1 month ago
Reply to  grizzler

The problem is, if we had more ships, we’d have no crews to man them

maurice10
maurice10
1 month ago
Reply to  Callum

I think you are being a bit disingenuous as any cooperation is a darn sight better than nothing and it’s all experience and learning for all involved.

Callum
Callum
1 month ago
Reply to  maurice10

In what way am I being disingenuous? I’m not knocking the cooperation itself, I’m saying the logic of having allies to lean on has been used by all involved parties to cut forces down to a level where independent action is borderline impossible for most of them.

The cooperation and international training is a good thing; every nation planning their force structures on incorrect assumptions, less good.

John quigley
John quigley
1 month ago
Reply to  Callum

I take it your referring to our current corrupt Government. Remember the good old days when we had an army & a navy that could go to sea IMMEDIATELely & had sufficient manpower. Oh well I suppose we could enlist a few press gangs.

Callum
Callum
1 month ago
Reply to  John quigley

No, I’m referring to every government of basically every Western nation since the peace dividend of the 90s. Some of them have been worse than others, others have been terrible in different ways. Just look at us for example; Labour from 1997-2010 wasted decades and billions on projects that produced nothing while cutting numbers. T26 was in development for their entire time in government, and the only thing that actually came out of that time was the last two T45s being cancelled to “bring T26 forward”. Then the Conservatives cut all of those dodgy programmes along with everything that was… Read more »

Terry Turnell
Terry Turnell
1 month ago

I see that pow has no ciws,one 23.no solid support ships,plane guard is poor.
The state of the Royal navy is terrible,
If wasn’t for the men and women who serve we would be yp the creek.

Phil
Phil
1 month ago

I think the above comments all make sense in that the various NATO elements need to be able to work together effectively hence exercises such as this. The game changers now however are Putin (for obvious reasons) and Trump; as stated elsewhere we cannot assume anymore that the US will (always) support Europe therefore each nation needs to up its game. My take is that the UK should have a strong – class leading NATO – navy, and a strong air force. Realistically we will never face a ground foe in isolation (apart from maybe Argentina) therefore the army will… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago

Is the ship’s first proper exercise? If so it will be a good test and learning experience operating off Norway. Good luck to all involved.

I did notice when the ship was leaving Pompey, that it has not had Phalanx fitted. So by my reckoning is not Red Sea ready.

John
John
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Agree. It is a lash up. End of.

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I put ihe phrase FFBNW Phalanx on yesterday’s thread seems no Phalanx/Goalkeeper available for fitting shouldn’t they have been in place for operational purposes including exercise for crew training let me Guess broomsticks are a cheaper option

Simon
Simon
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

Goalkeeper is out of service and I don’t think it could be switched from ship to ship

Tommo
Tommo
1 month ago
Reply to  Simon

Painted broomsticks it is then as with Goalkeeper internal pillars had too be fitted in an A frame structure configuration the fwd Goalkeeper on the Invincible went through 5Delta mess looked odd 1 Square metal pole through the Mess Square they built the beer bar round it

Simon
Simon
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommo

The need for the units to be switched between ships was the main reason Goalkeeper was removed from service in favour of Phalanx

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

Are the QECs fit for purpose will rocket through defence finance, the fact that we can not protect them with Sovereign capability will also be noted.

It was a bold move that ripped not only the Escort fleet to pieces but has endangered many other platforms.

Will the QECs survive first contact with a budget driven defence review?

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

Come on David, don’t get too depressed mate….. It’ll all get better soon with the Labour Government and Trump getting elected…….. 😂….. what a Clusterf%$K that combination eh ?

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank

It’ll be a monumental foxtrot uniform. Tinfoil hat moment, but, it has been shown that the Rajapaksas knew Sri Lanka was going to suffer multiple terrorist attacks, both they and SL MilInt said nothing. The Mossad knew nothing about a huge terrorist attack on Israel, seriously? So a prospective Labour MP gets kicked out because they are trying to shrug off the slur of antisemitism and he voiced an opinion; sorry, I’ve never felt the love of the Red Sea tourists and the amount of innocent that have been killed is appalling. However, Labour acted. Labour have thus been shown… Read more »

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

Ouch mate…… I want to book a place in that Cart now !!!!

Ralph
Ralph
1 month ago

I read the twitter post from Sir Ben Key, detailing the ‘monunental effort’ to get the carrier underway for the exercise, including personnel cancelling leave and holidays. Why wouldn’t they just move the crew from the Queen Elizabeth over to crew the PoW? Aren’t they identical ships?

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Ralph

Because they were on leave and on holidays ?

Bill
Bill
1 month ago

Please tell me we have all the F35’s aboard that we can muster. 24? 16? 10? 8?

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Bill

0……. until she gets further north mate……

DH
DH
1 month ago

Go POW! 👏. Do us proud! 🦸👀

Ralph
Ralph
1 month ago

Ah right, yes, that makes sense.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

Thats what is so different about a carrier it can be loaded up while it’s traveling. It can be armed, resupplied and f35s can join while it’s on its way to the north sea