It has been reported that “almost half” of the warships in HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group have been hit by positive COVID-19 cases.
The Sun, which broke the story first, stated that the sailors became infected when they were on a run ashore at Limassol in Cyprus.
A Royal Navy spokesman said in a statement:
“As part of routine testing, a small number of crew from the Carrier Strike Group have tested positive for Covid-19. All personnel deployed in the UK CSG have received both doses of the Covid vaccine and there are a number of mitigation measures on board including masks, social distancing and a track and trace system. The Carrier Strike Group will continue to deliver their operational tasks and there are no effects on the deployment.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said during a press briefing on Tuesday:
“Our crew are double vaccinated so you’ll be glad to know there is no serious effects on any of the crew and we will manage it. I will offer support to the captain to make the decision – what is right for his ship. I will fully support whatever decision he makes but this is not like the early days of the problems with COVID. It is understood, we know how to deal with it.”
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 pictured above is the Astute class submarine sailing with the group.
CSG21 will see the carrier along with her Strike Group work with over 40 countries from around the world. The Strike Group will operate and exercise with other countries Navies and Air Forces during the 7 month deployment.
Recently, the Strike Group joined coalition operations in the Eastern Mediterranean; an historic milestone as British and American F-35B strike fighters flew the first operational missions from a Queen Elizabeth-class carrier, as they stood ready to strike at Daesh.
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, said:
“The Carrier Strike Group’s period working with our NATO partners in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas offers unmistakable proof that the United Kingdom’s most important overseas defence commitment remains the security of the Euro-Atlantic region. While HMS Queen Elizabeth launched counter-Daesh missions over Iraq and Syria from the Eastern Mediterranean, HMS Defender and HNLMS Evertsen were conducting concurrent operations 1600 miles away in the Black Sea – true strategic reach.
Meanwhile, our programme of defence engagement involved a huge amount of work in support of British Embassies and High Commissions, but from Alicante to Alexandria and Bar to Batumi, the message was the same: Britain’s friends and allies are delighted to see the Royal Navy back in town. Now we head east, towards the rising economies of the Indo-Pacific. From the Strait of Gibraltar to the Strait of Malacca, CSG21 offers unprecedented influence and engagement in support of Global Britain.”