Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail with a task group of nine vessels, including a nuclear submarine.

The vessels will participate in the UK’s Carrier Strike Group exercise (GROUPEX) and Joint Warrior 20-2 (JW202).

HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail with HMS Kent, HMS Defender, HMS Diamond, HMS Northumberland, RFA Tideforce, RFA Fort Victoria, Dutch Frigate HNLMS Evertsen, American Destroyer USS The Sullivans and an unnamed British nuclear submarines.

This is in preparation for next year when HMS Queen Elizabeth will deploy with two frigates, two destroyers, a nuclear submarine and support vessels.

Commodore Michael Utley, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, is reported by Save The Royal Navy here as saying that HMS Queen Elizabeth will be escorted on her ’round the world deployment’ by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria.

Earlier in the year, HMS Queen Elizabeth cleared her penultimate hurdle for front-line duties after ten weeks around the UK, preparing for her maiden deployment in the new year.

“A final package of training in the autumn – working alongside NATO and US allies – will confirm her ability to act as a task group flagship, so that she can lead a potent carrier strike force on front-line operations anywhere in the world.”

The Royal Navy said at the time that in view of the size and complexity of the carrier, she received a dedicated training package, initially off the south coast, to test the ability of all 1,100 men and women on board to deal with everything they might expect to face in peace and war. The training package reached its climax with 18 fictional fire and flood incidents raging simultaneously – with the ship expected to continue flying operations while damage control teams toiled in the carrier’s depths.

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The time of the Task Group “Death Star” is back.
On a Cougar deployment I was on a Death Star (LPD) as the Task Group Flagship. Its a real pain.
Personally I much preferred being on the “Rebel Alliance” FF/DD’s.


Why was it a pain?


You are a lot more involved with arranging everyone’s lives. Spares issues for the group, manpower, exercises, command and flag briefs to attend and brief in. And that’s on top of your regular day to day job looking after your maintainers and their equipment.


It’s going to be interesting to see what assets are cut during the defense review. The latest interview with the defense minister, had min heavily talking about drones replacing legacy assets and manpower, with a focus on the navy. Hard to tell if focus on navy was because of the location or because he is laying the foundations for reducing the blow back from the cuts. It feels the navy helicopter fleet has already been cut too far, not really sure further cut would be viable, but i am now thinking we will see it take heavy cuts, under the… Read more »


The RN Helos will , I believe be spared most of the pain. The RAF Pumas however must be ripe for cutting. The LRG announcement highlights the RM as being at the forefront of deployable forces and you will need ships to put them on and Helos to move them. Drones and other tech will support them where ever they strike. It has been very very quiet on the Para Regt front of late. They do not seem to be favoured in press releases or being used in experimental war-fighting trials. It could be that they are being made ready… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Agree with GB. Too few Wildcat and Merlin to cut, and the RN’s ships need helicopters. On 16AA, I believe 1 Battalion is in role from the Parachute Regiment while the other is in Air Assault role, along with the accompanying Gurkha Battalion. For a drop I believe the maximum is a reinforced company group, with reinforcement from the support arms. Already minimal. Though removing it would not be disastrous in the wider scheme of things ( Except maybe for the Paras, its a good capability to have. And raiding from the air, using RAF transports, at speed, will be… Read more »

Mark B

I could be wrong but these potential cuts might well restricted to kit built abroad. There may be a push to invest in British made kit. We will get the bare minimum for existing projects but that’s it. It might be true to say that the Army will once again also be hit merely because the UK’s position as a contributor to the defence of mainland Europe is up in the air.


Spot on Daniele, the Battalions will be safe, as one is SFSG, one will be “in role” (albeit as you say only realisticly a Company group to be inserted by parachute) and the other is available for other tasks, and to back fill the in-role Battalion. You are correct that the main savings will be the attached arms and the enablers, 7 RHA, Engineers, Medics, RLC, Sigs etc etc, and as these are thin on the ground anyway, I can see the Brigade becoming a light role “raiding” formation minus the other arms. Not much of a saving, but deleting… Read more »

Graham Moore

I agree that 16 AA Bde is out of the public eye at the moment, but I hope this does not mean they are ripe for cuts. Cuts were imposed a few years ago on the brigade. They will have a para company trained and current in jumping at high readiness but I thought that the rest of its parent battalion was also jump-ready but just at a slightly lower Notice To Move. 16 AA Bde, like 3 Cdo Bde are our 2 high readiness brigades and it would be folly to further hobble either as it would diminish fast… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Morning Graham. You misread me opinions on CS & CSS units. I have mentioned their importance many times over on UKDJ and how they are consistently cut to avoid the political flak of cutting battalion / regimental names. ( Cap Badge Mafia ) In the context of my post above I meant IF 16 AA is sadly reduced from a war fighting brigade to a mere raiding / intervention force ( As is happening with 3 Commando Brigade and the LRG ) then bean counters will cut some of the CS&CSS enablers that enable the brigade to function. 7 RHA… Read more »


I make that total displacement for the squadron of 182,815 tons. Clearly mass alone is not of huge relevance, but for Top Trumps purposes, that must exceed the displacement of all but a handful of the world’s navies.


Yeah, interesting.


Perhaps we could just hang on to the Dutch and US ships and keep them for the round the world flag waving excercise!

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Andrew. Would be a splendid idea. Would you prefer the UK does not go “flag waving” and simply shrivel up and go away? Presence puts the UK on the map, not just militarily. I’m proud that the UK is one of few nations of the world with the means and capability to go flag waving with a carrier and escorts. Most nations navies remain in local waters. Sorry if I read you wrong, as I read so many being negative and using flag waving to imply a pointless exercise. As for allied escorts, it was long ago mentioned a… Read more »

Andy P

Yes Daniele, it is good we have allies that we view as capable enough to be integrated into these Task Groups. Outside of the US I’m not sure the other countries have an SSN (or capable enough SSK) which would be handy.

I just hope the current treaty breaking shenanigans don’t affect our military alliances.


except from what i gather they dont break anything as stands, their an insurance policy against the eu banning uk imports to ni? and they dont break anything until actually used, and last i read that was now down to parlimentary support……. and im definately no expert on domestic vs international law, plus atm things like this keep evolving… ive nfi really :/ but i dont quite understand why a lot of people seem willing to completely ignore aspects of the eu demands while instantly dismissing why our are what they are, and im definately no brexiteer…..just seems mediawise these… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Fearless. The UK is the big bad wolf in this whole sorry saga and much of the media and Remoaner’s will happily ignore what the EU is actually doing. And they make the biggest noise. Making the process of leaving as hard as possible to deter others, and cutting off nose to spite face are two good descriptions. The NI issue is a big stick being used as a weapon. One only need look at the trade deals they happily agree with others, yet with one of their biggest markets ( the UK ) the conditions of having a FT… Read more »


Yup, you read it wrong….. I’m one of the strongest proponents of a balanced and Properly funded military you’ll find…. I wasn’t using ‘flag waving’ as a derogatory term, But more as an expression of the UK returning to the big deck carrier club… The strongest element of the Uk’s military forces, in my opinion, isn’t the steel and guns we can point at someone, but it’s the large number of like minded allies we can muster…. What I’d love to see when The carrier gets to Asia, is a large number of countries adding a warship to the group… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I did suspect. Again my apologies.

Agree, that would be great to see. I hope it happens.


Well they will be going, thats for sure, as most European navies will want to be associated with, in your view, the “flag waving” exercise. They will want to be there as the actual “deployment” shows we have a capability few in the world have, it will show the hard power that can come behind the soft, and it puts the UK in peoples minds when it comes to trade and business. Not many world leaders will turn down a photo op in the mess deck of an operational carrier! Yes we are thin on the ground, lack depth and… Read more »


I remember Ark Royal’s deployment in 2010 … she even embarked USMC aircraft at one stage! Just before SDSR2010 was announced, the Economist magazine published an article claiming that the Royal Navy didn’t need any surface ships larger than a few frigates. It suggested spending a fraction of the money saved on Cyberwarfare, MPAs that worked, and a decent air defense system – and that the UK would then be a lot safer. Cameron read the first bit of that article at least! There are still loud voices (e.g. Max Hastings) that hold the view that UK carrier strike is… Read more »

Mark F

I have it on god authority that the Yanks can’t wait to get thier hands on QE and POW. They will rename them USS B Johnson and D Cummings respectively.

Gavin Gordon

If that’s what God says…..

Mark F

He does

John Hampson

Yep that mini gun is going to really scare a swarm Iranian of fast attack boats.


You are sanguine about facing a mini gun are you? You would back yourself, would you?


Don’t forget the 50 cals 30mm and Phalanx which has a surface capability. And more than likely Royal firing off Javelins


I am sure that Iranian put some long range ATGM’s into their small fast attack boats. Some precise hits into radars and any ship goes blind.

It would not be like fighting some pirate gang with RPG’s.


ATGMs are relatively speaking pretty slow- just the kind of thing that Phalanx etc. are made to shoot down. The further away they fire them from, the longer the reaction time is.


The Iranians would be lucky to fire the ATGWs in the right direction! Lets not overstate their capabilities if it goes kinetic…..yes they can grab a RIB with a few people in it, and we dont react (and they knew it) as it would escalate tensions at that time, but as escalation goes, once the shit hits the fan we can escalate and go kinetic better than most.


So picture this against say a T23. A group of speedboats comes out to play tanking along at 30knts bouncing and jumping all over the place. They try to lock up the T23 with a Wire guided or laser guided ATGW whilst doing 30 knots , whilst jumping around and slamming into waves …that will be fun. Chances are the ATGW will ditch or hit a wave and then ditch. Anyway It all kicks off and The PWO cries weapons free. So the 4.5 starts throwing airburst rounds out at 20 a minute shreading anything in the blast radius, the… Read more »

John Hampson

The Houthis managed it against the Saudi frigate in the Red Sea with just 3 make do speed boats.

Glass Half Full

Which surely says more about Saudi (lack of) training and preparedness and/or complacency, since it was apparently unchallenged by the ship’s company, than it does about the the Houthis’ capabilities.


It was a little more involved than that and they used remote control guided speed boat bombs. Let’s just say the RSNF at the time did not do force protection like they do now… They are a lot more switched on to their advasary following that episode.

Robert Blay

The RN has had the Iranians covered for the last 30 years in the gulf, so I think we will be just fine.


They literally just hijacked one of our tankers.

Paul T

HMS Cornwall ??.

John Hampson

Reading some of the replies below there seems to be an element of complacent confidence in the level of armament on RN ships. The US Essex class carriers had 12 x 5″ guns, upto 72 x 40mm, upto 76 x 20mm cannons and kamikaze Zero’s, diving at about 250 mph +/-, still got thru. What chance does a Type 23 with a couple of 30mm’s and a few mini guns have against a swarm of Iranian speed boats armed with rockets, attacking along the frigates blind spots.


Replies from possibly people who know the capabilites in that region the RN have? The 30mm DS30M Mk2 with off mount EOD is an excellent bit of kit and capable of defending a type 23. In fact a swarm of Iranian speed boats would be an easier situation to deal with than Japanese Kamikazes! Would be great to have anothe pair fitted, yes, but 50 Cal, Miniguns and GMPG are all excellent layered weapon systems. Throw in a Wildcat, and the type 23s sensor and optic suite, if we were at the level of going kinetic, the Iranains would struggle… Read more »

John Hampson

I said blind spots. The Houthis did eactly that against the Saudi frigate in the Red Sea with just 3 make do speed boats. I referenced the Essex class armament to provide an example. Their 5″ guns were radar controlled and the 40mm shells had proximity fuses. Wildcats cannot be almost discounted. The Iranians hijacked the Stena tanker before the Wildcat could get up. If an attack was planned a sensible tactic would be wait until the Wildcat was out of the equation. The 85 knot Seraj boats are armed with rockets that have been specifically designed to give Western… Read more »


Totaly aware lf the Falklands conflict and the strengths and weaknesses of the task force, but that’s another issue as at the time you must remember that the RN was geared for ASW in the North Sea, against those pesky Russians, and anti air weapon systems had not been seen as a priority, however that’s another story all in itself. I do agree that most of the RN surface ships are currently under armed, however you refer to blindspots. That’s interesting as if you were defending a fixed post, you always have blindspots and try to mitigate them as per… Read more »


Which of the Essex’s guns were computer controlled and guided by radar tracking? We’re also talking about small surface ships.

John Hampson

The 12x 5″ were radar controlled and the 72 x 40mm had proximity fuses.


I wasn’t aware of that. Regardless, munitions today are surely much more accurate. And you wouldn’t use a 30mm ASCG to take on an incoming missile.


Look we can’t compete with a US Carrier Battle Group but the group announced above is very much the second best in the world. The Russians & Chinese will be looking closely and whatever they say to the outside world they are both secretly jealous.

Next year we will maybe see the UK Carrier Strike Group operating / training alongside the French and / or the Americans in multi carrier ops. The UK F35Bs operating alongside F18s & Rafales would make an awesome package. Exciting times.

Daniele Mandelli



Send it to defend the english channel

Meirion X

About time a floating barrier is built in the Channel!


The US Destroyer will add a bunch of TLAMs to add to the punch of this task force.

Benjamin Rule

In addition to the TLAMs on the British Boat of course.


Very excited by this. Fantastic achievement to bring all of this together. Cannot think of any navy other than the us that is in the position to send a carrier force on a global deployment! Bravo!


Excellent news, Rule Britannia (sorry BBC). Last piece of the puzzle….please make it at least 12+12 F35’s!


I was in Buffalo, NY this summer and saw USS The Sullivans moored up as a museum ship. Obviously an earlier version. Amazing how they towed her up the St Lawrence river, across the great lakes (Ontario and Eerie) and canals. The name is important. Named after a family (5 or 6 brothers) all killed when one ship was sunk during WW2. Very moving.

David Knowles

USS Juneau I believe.

Paul O'Keefe

Any idea which way they will travel? East or West coast? I’m overlooking Sinclair Bay in Caithness, would be great to get some photos.