HMS Queen Elizabeth has met up with the USS George H. W. Bush and her carrier strike group off the coast of Scotland.

The Nimitz class carrier has more than 60 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines on board, who have been working with their US counterparts to hone carrier strike skills ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s entry into service.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently on contractor sea trials off the coast of Scotland. This morning she met up with a taskgroup of ships taking part in Exercise Saxon Warrior.

Captain Kyd, HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Commanding Officer, said:

“The USS George HW Bush battle group is an awesome embodiment of maritime power projection.

And given that the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group Commander and his staff are embedded on board the US carrier for Saxon Warrior shows the closeness of our relationship with the US Navy and the importance that both nations place on the delivery of the UK’s Carrier Strike programme. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth is at the start of her journey to generate to full warfighting capability, but we are working hard to ready ourselves to take our place in operations and the line of battle alongside our closest allies.”

As well as the USS George HW Bush, the group includes two Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigates, HMS Westminster and HMS Iron Duke, destroyer USS Donald Cook, missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea and the Norwegian frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad.

Captain Ken Houlberg, Chief of Staff to the Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said:

“The US Navy, out of huge generosity, has given us the whole of their carrier strike group so that we can practise the command and control of a carrier doing these operations in British waters so that when HMS Queen Elizabeth comes into service later this year we will be well on the way to forming our own carrier strike capability.”

The exercise, which has been at play for nearly a week, has seen UK staff work with their American counterparts to fight off a series of simulated threats from enemy forces, using all the air, surface and sub-surface assets of the entire task group.

There are 15 ships from across NATO taking part in the exercise, called Exercise Saxon Warrior, with more than 100 aircraft and nearly 10,000 people.

Lieutenant Commander James Capps, a Royal Navy fixed wing pilot who is the Fixed Wing Operations Officer on the exercise, said:

“We are extremely fortunate. Being here on the George HW Bush has given us the opportunity to see where we are and what we need to achieve for our own UK carrier strike capability and to be here to see how the US does it has been fantastic preparation. They have been so welcoming and we are extremely grateful for the experience.”

The Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced on Monday that Britain’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is set to enter her new home in Portsmouth in around two weeks.

Weather conditions mean the exact date of the historic moment is yet to be confirmed, the window for entry will open next Thursday 17 August, with her arrival expected to be no later than the following Tuesday 22 August.

With only three other countries in the world building aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth will give Britain the capability to lead the way in tackling global issues in an increasingly uncertain world, from providing humanitarian relief to high-end war fighting.

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Great pictures.

Stuart broome

Agreed and whilst we will never rule the waves as we once did it is important as one of worlds greatest maritime trading nations our navy is strong. The RN needs to be reasonably increased in size to show that little Britain is still a sea power to be reckoned with and to ensure freedom of the seas is maintained and not compromised by other nations with an eye to increasing their own spheres of influence. A role for a post Brexit U.K. That would not break the bank and demonstrate we are still open to trade.


Yeah I agree, 8 AAW Destroyers 8 ASW frigates and 24 General purpose frigates are what we should be achieving with our defence budget imo.

Phil wyld

Or 4 out if five tied up in pompey

Geoff Goldberg

In the first picture towards the rear and in-between the two rows of Type 23s and Arleigh Burkes, is that a Type 45? Or maybe Horizon-class? I can’t quite place the shape


it said there was a Norwegian frigate, maybe it was that

Geoff Goldberg

Must be


No 45s taking part in this exercise. Looks like we decided to test our new strike carrier group skills using our oldest and least capable of surface ships.

david simpson

That really is nonsense in so far as their combat effectiveness is concerned – especially with their ASW capabilities which are most pertinent to the their role in the exercise. So negative for the sake of it…. Jeez.


I didn’t say they weren’t capable. But the fact is they are less capable than the 45s. Maybe you should learn to read, comprehend, and react in a non-hysterical way.


The T23s are massively more capable than the T45s …. at ASW. Like any team, everyone brings their own strengths. The US vessels have AAW very well covered but the T23s are far superior platforms to either AB or Tico for ASW. A couple of T45s would have been unnecessary duplication and contributed very little, the two T23s (presumably a pair so they can sprint and drift) have contributed a key component to the CBG defences.

Evan P

Those aren’t Arleigh Burkes as such, there is an Arleigh Burke, but the other ship behind it in the first photo is a Ticonderoga class cruiser if I’m not mistaken.

Sam Wardle

The USS Philippine Sea (In front of the Arleigh Burke) is a Ticonderoga 🙂

Geoff Goldberg

Considering it’s the purpose that the Type 45s were constructed for, does it seem strange to anyone else that, as yet, there hasn’t even been one deployed for escort duties?

James Elvin

Excatly my thoughts.

Richard Smith

They’ve been deployed escorting US carriers though, so they have experience in that role.

david simpson

No….the ships chosen were relevant to the particular exercise, given the USN was providing the escorts providing AD like the T45s would do.

Geoff Goldberg

The US has only just shown up, QE has been escorted by only the two 23s for the month or so she’s been on trails at sea. That’s not adequate for AD.

Evan P

Artisan radar and Sea Ceptor is pretty good really, but yes it would have been wise to add a SAMPSON system to the mix.


Geoff – for a civilian ship on builder’s trials? And as it happens the two Type 23s were only around for the initial Photex moves and then went to other duties. One of which was to prepare for Saxon Warrior (HMS Iron Duke)

And the US hasn’t ‘only just shown up’ they have given a complete US Carrier Group to the UK to test and develop our skills to operate such a group over a two week period. Op. Saxon Warrior is for OUR benefit not theirs.

So maybe a little respect for the Yanks?


Somehow I don’t the UK needs AD ships whilst undertaking sea worthiness testing at home – they have other facilities for this type of scenario.


She is on sea trials in UK waters under the umbrella of RAF cover. Suggest Two x T23 are there to deter surface observers, and more significantly sub surface observers, getting too close.


Whose going to attack her on sea trials – she hasn’t even got any planes on board !


Fabulous! Now if we could just see our way clear to replacing Ocean with a Navantia LHD and buy another dozen F-35B’s we could think in terms of always having 2 / 3 flat tops always available.

A. Smith

We should design and build a new LHD based on the Tide-Class hull using automation functionality used in the QE Carriers. The new LHD would have Sea Ceptor. We could then sell HMS Ocean, Bulwark and Albion. If a second LHD is needed we just build one.

The QE carrier design would be ideal as a “smaller” carrier that the US is rumoured to be wanting.


Yes the Queen Elizabeth would be a great aquisition for the USN. Given the growing likelihood of a Pacific war and heavy casualties, they could fulfill the light carrier role used to such good effect in WWII. But unfortunately, given our brutal procurement politics they would never allow purchase of a foreign hull. It’s our loss


TH – Still on the wind up mission I see. Useless Mong


I think the plan is for you to progress this TH – give you something to do.


Team UK?


TH I do pay for these vessels, as I am a UK tax payer. All the national resources belong to the people and as a UK national/resident I effectively own a small percentage. As such I don’t see a problem of say ‘we’.

Whether we would accept a tax raise to pay for more is another question, as I don’t think currently defence should be the number one priority for public money.


What the hell is wrong with you TH? Why this constant inability to understand a simple concept?

We = we the taxpayers, we the citizens of the UK.

“We” have national assets that, funded by tax revenue (and admittedly supplemented by borrowing), can be considered “ours”. Our welfare system, our NHS, our emergency services, our civil service, our embassies, our road network, etc, etc, etc. And yes, our military.

Daniele Mandelli

TH is an unpatriotic lefty who has serious issues with the UK being on the world stage.
“We” as in the UK, to which we are rightly proud, would offend him greatly.
As an example, my wife was considering joining a union at her place of work, but was put off by the Corbyn loving lunatic running it who had a problem calling Great Britain “Great” and preferred just Britain. Issues issues everywhere, and probably TH’s brother.


DM most of us lefties are A) patriotic and B) very much agree the defence of our nation is a top priority, just because some some troll irritates please don’t insult all of us who believe that the unfettered rule of the markets is not the right way to take our country forwards. After all the USSR was just jam packed with ultra left wing communists and no one could have called them unpatriotic pacifists.

Mr Bell

The US is very interested in the QE design as a cost effective large deck carrier that has the size and mass advantage of a large deck carrier but costs a fraction of a Gerald R Ford class. The manning requirement even for a cats and traps/ EMLS carrier would be less than 45% of a Ford class whilst able to deploy approx 70% the carrier airwing of a Ford. So the QE class is a great cost effective design. The RN does need to man up for the reinvigoration of a carrier strike role and get back its frontline… Read more »


US is very interested in the QE class?

Not sure to believe anything you say after what you said on the Gibraltar article.

A. Smith

We are clearly lacking capable ships and in the numbers we need. The Type 31 needs to be a capable war fighter (silent & stealthy) that will mirror the functionality and capabilities of the Type 26. This will free up the Type 26s and 45s.

David Stephen

No it does not. ASW will be covered by Type 26. type 31 needs to be cheap and general purpose. Jobs like APTN, APTS, NATO Task Forces 150 & 151 do not need world class ASW capabilities. Free up the 26s and 45s for what? ASW is the type 26s role. Why would you push that on to the Type 31? To let the Type 26 do non ASW, that makes no sense.

Ian 2

Ladies please a little bit less bitching and a bit more decorerum.

Bruce Sellers

The level of debate is reducing the quality of this site. I find myself halfway through the Comments and losing interest, as it descends into farce.


Bruce – Here is a tip for you: This is an open forum. We agree and disagree as we choose. If you want to just read that with which you agree then maybe find another site or stop reading comments.

I disagree intensely with the witterings of people like TH. But I will defend his / her absolute right to write as they please.

Free Speech is a precious thing. Don’t bitch when it is exercised.

Bruce Sellers

Marvellous. There’s a perfect case in point Chris- thank you.
I didn’t say if I agreed with any party or not.
I didn’t say anything with regard to anyone’s right to contribute.
A point of observation about the quality of ‘debate’ elicits churlishness.

The Comments threads have previously added additional detail, or perhaps balance to the core article. Less so these days.


Exactly, spending on welfare and foreign aid should be reduced to more sustainable levels.


TH – I am no ‘expert’ I leave those labels to self indulgent people like yourself. But I recognise bullcrap and wind up when I see it. And you spout plenty of both. Unlike you I am prepared to fund the defence of ‘our’ country through the use of ‘our’ taxes and ‘our’ borrowing abilities with the best available (in this case) ships. They are therefore ‘our’ ships. Indeed the title ‘Her Majesty’s Ship’ indicates same because Her Majesty represents, as Head of State, the whole country. You don’t wish us to have a credible defence. Fine. Why I neither… Read more »


It just as well be a cruise liner for the good it’s doing “useless” no catapults, no planes, no angled flight deck, and not nuclear powered. Basically it’s a 70000 ton invincible with no jump jets being able to do nothing other than joyride around and pretend to look hard or something next to the nimitz, embarresing ,Typical British, a cockied igledy pigledy abicilious backwerd pile of useless crap. Oh and not one but two.

paul mercer

Can someone please explain why there are no phalanx platforms on HMS QE.?


Because she is still the property of the ACA on sea trials. She’ll probably get her defensive systems when she’s handed over in Portsmouth.


More arms sales the better, the UK has very stringent legislation regarding the selling of arms to other nations. If you want to talk numbers let’s, the welfare budget is 114.4 Billion, that’s billion with a capital B. You’d have to treble the defence budget and then add another double digit figure to get close to that. How is that sustainable?


What do you suggest Patrick? what part of the welfare budget would you cut?

Disabled? Jobless? Single mums? Struggling families?

It’s amazing how people always attack the welfare & foreign aid budget on here yet fail to mention not even once about the 20 billion tax avoidance and over 100 billion tax evasion costs every year.

That’s 120 Billion Patrick with a capital B.

That’s what the establishment has achieved, brainwashing people who have little into blaming their and their countries problems on those who have even less.


In fairness the Tories have not received much credit from the left wing media in terms of how much they have cut tax avoidance, especially in property. More needs to be done to tackle offshoring revenues especially through fake finance arrangements, but multinational companies will always find a way to moving revenue to low tax locations, it will also increase prices on the consumer so we pay one way or the other. In terms of cutting benefits, they have done a good job reassessing those claiming benefits as the self assessment method was clearly open to abuse. It also not… Read more »


There is no credit to be given to any government over the past 10-15 years, Labour or Tory. Total amount of revenue lost has been well over 100 billion for 10+ years, it’s not good enough. The multinationals have too much power, it’s going to take someone with the b***s to hit these with the tax bill they should receive. And if they don’t pay take them to court and make them pay under UK law. These are not like energy companies where we have to pay because there is no alternative, if Starbucks put up prices get your coffee… Read more »

David Stephen

Defence is paramount. The first duty of government is to protect the citizenry. All other considerations are secondary. The welfare budget is bloated and open to abuse. Plenty could and should be cut from it. Those are all facts no matter your political leanings.


Yes Stephen it is, protect the public from crime, terrorism, foreign attack, lots of different things.

I have never once stated that the defence budget should be cut so I’m not sure where you’re coming from saying “defence is paramount”

Why bring up just the welfare budget? Do you not think tax avoidance/evasion is worse because it costs our country more?

Out of interest what should be cut cut from the welfare budget?


David** sorry.


it’s really nice to see her sit aside the us carrier and not get completely dwarfed. the old carriers looked silly whenever they were alongside the US ones.

John Clark

With regards to the bloated social security budget, its just a symptom of 1st world life in general.

Put simply, far to many people sat on the cart, with the rest struggling to pull it along, that imbalance gets worse with each passing year.

Rights and wrongs of this aside, its simply unsustainable. Perhaps I’m just old fashioned, but I was brought up believing in personal responsibility, not stood waiting in line with my hand out…

Defence will always be the poor relation…

David Stephen

Kieran C. What I mean is that defence should be funded to the needed level first then other areas get what’s left. You can’t afford to do everything and the path we are on will if it is taken to its logical conclusion end with us spending on nothing but welfare. Every year the welfare budget gets bigger and everything else gets smaller. John Clark is right, it’s just unsustainable. There should always be a safety net for vulnerable people, I think everyone can agree on that but it can’t be a bottomless well. As to what to cut, we… Read more »


The reality is our defence budget is huge, there are is only one nation that could actually threaten our soverenity and that nation just happens to be our bestee. If we lived next door to China I would say hell yes let’s start talking 6-10 percent of our GDP, but we don’t. Of our peers ( Russia and France) one is sort of like like an irritating brother and the other is again to far to be a real threat. The current threats to our nation are population/ resource based: 1) health and social security 2) Ensuring we have a… Read more »


Yeah I actually agree with them solutions Stephen, NHS charge with for none passport holders (outwith A&E for holiday makers. Yes. Foreign budget cut, yes, for me down to 0.5 percent of GDP. With that we would still be the 3rd biggest donate of foreign aid. And you even admitted there isn’t actually a lot that you can cut from welfare if you look at it, without risking people’s health and wellbeing. Benefits have been frozen for a while and there has been a lot already chopped off, income support cap, bedroom tax etc. Another reason the welfare budget gets… Read more »


David I mean again!! Bloody iPhone

Evan P

Continue paying taxes probably.

Jim Christian

On today’s ocean there are but four elements. Subs, torpedoes, missiles and beautiful surface targets like those pictured. Why any country builds anything other than the first three is beyond me. When the balloon goes up, there is going to be a lot of scrap steel and many US Naval aircraft on the bottom of the ocean.