The next step in preparation for the deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth will be Exercise Saxon Warrior this summer which will see Royal Navy staff embark on the USS George H.W. Bush.
According to the US Navy, Saxon Warrior is an exercise designed to develop ‘theatre-specific combat skills’ as well as enhance cooperation between multi-national forces.
Led by Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST), Saxon Warrior presents a ‘myriad of challenges to the multi-national and multi-platform force by creating a diverse and unpredictable war environment based on fictional geo-political and military scenarios’.
Cmdr Eric Retz, US Navy Carrier Strike Group 2’s operations officer, said of the exercise:
“Saxon Warrior will test every aspect of our war-fighting capabilities-from air wing strikes to the self-defenxe of the carrier.
The beauty of operating with coalition partners is that we practice with them, learn their strengths, and then blend those strengths together to make the most potent coalition force possible.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth is planned to sail for 11 weeks of sea trials in the North Sea. The Contractor Sea Trials period will consist of five weeks at sea, one week alongside and five weeks at sea and then if all goes well, she will head to Portsmouth.
According to Bob Hawkins MBE, First Lieutenant of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, quoted here:
“The build process continues up here in Rosyth. Some of you may have experienced this from the RN side of the house, perhaps in a new class of ship, in a new build. The frustrations are many and varied. Add to this the sheer scale and complexity of the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers and you can imagine that each day brings a new challenge in moving towards Ships Staff Move On Board (SSMOB) then its sequel, Ready For Sea Date (RFSD).
SSMOB is planned for 9 January; RFSD 10 March. Using Andrew St George’s 12 principles of Leadership in the Royal Navy, I subscribe to his No.2, Cheerfulness. A glass half empty as opposed to a glass half full approach is a choice, and I choose to remain optimistic. Draw from that what you will.
Timing of First Entry Portsmouth (FEP) is dependent upon achieving RFSD and the subsequent success of Power and Propulsion Trials. This initial Contractor Sea Trials period we call euphemistically ‘5-1-5’, i.e. from RFSD, five weeks at sea, one week alongside (Invergordon), five weeks at sea, then FEP: a standard package that must be executed in full from whichever start date we achieve. Clearly, FEP will shift right if RFSD does, or indeed if ‘5-1-5’ needs to be extended to accommodate any set-backs thrown up during the trials.”
Merlins will start simple flight activities later in 2017 during the vessels sea trials and then first-class flight trials begin in early 2018, F-35 begins flying from the deck later that year.