The Wall Street Journal has reported that “the most powerful U.K. fleet to be assembled in decades” is sailing in what it describes as “an effort to show British military muscle”.
The Global deployment of a British Carrier Strrike Group is attracting attention in the United States.
According to the Wall Street Journal:
“The most powerful U.K. fleet to be assembled in decades is preparing to set sail this month on a tour of 40 countries, focused on the Indo-Pacific, in an effort to show British military muscle in a region where the U.S. is seeking to counter Chinese influence..
Spearheading the fleet is HMS Queen Elizabeth, one of two new aircraft carriers that are central to the U.K.’s new foreign-policy strategy. The approach seeks to cement the ‘special relationship’ with the U.S. while bolstering alliances within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and across the globe.”
Additionally, writing in Bloomberg, James Stavridis a former US. Navy officer, wrote that “the news that the UK will soon send a full-strength carrier strike force to sea for the first time since the Falklands War in 1982 reminds me how capable U.S. allies can be globally”.
“And given that the flotilla is deploying to the Indian and Pacific Oceans — with stops planned in India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea — it demonstrates the unity those allied nations are showing with the U.S. in its growing rivalry with China.”
He also said:
“Centered on the 60,000-ton aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, the strike group includes two frontline air-defense destroyers and two very capable antisubmarine frigates, as well as a nuclear submarine. The air wing is made up of fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighters built by the U.S. and a consortium of allies, including the British. Additionally, there is a very capable suite of helicopters onboard capable of attacking both surface ships and submarines, and carrying out long-range reconnaissance and targeting.”
What is the Carrier Strike Group doing?
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group deployment will feature visits to India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore.
According to the Ministry of Defence, on the 28-week deployment spanning 26,000 nautical miles the Carrier Strike Group will conduct engagements with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan and India as part of the UK’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region.
Additionally, ‘CSG21’ will participate in NATO exercises such as Exercise Steadfast Defender, and provide support to NATO Operation Sea Guardian and maritime security operations in the Black Sea.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signalling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow. The entire nation can be proud of the dedicated men and women who for more than six months will demonstrate to the world that the UK is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st Century.”
Units from the Carrier Strike Group are expected to visit more than 40 countries and undertake over 70 engagements, say the Ministry of Defence.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth, the most powerful surface vessel in the Royal Navy’s history, will next month set sail as the flagship of a Carrier Strike Group. Joining her will be a surface fleet of Type 45 destroyers, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring. Deep below the surface, a Royal Navy Astute-class submarine will be deployed in support, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Providing a cutting edge on the carrier’s flight deck will be eight state-of-the-art RAF F-35B Lightning II fast jets. Alongside will be four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters – the greatest quantity of helicopters assigned to a single UK Task Group in a decade. And supporting below deck will be a company of Royal Marines Commandos. A US Navy destroyer, a frigate from the Netherlands and a squadron of US Marine Corps F-35B jets are also fully integrated.”
Additional remarks from the statement explain the “Indo-Pacific tilt”.
“CSG21 will be a truly global deployment, from the North Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific. In Parliament, the Defence Secretary will explain how it will help achieve the UK’s goal for deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific region in support of shared prosperity and regional stability – a stated aim of the Government’s recently published Integrated Review into foreign, defence, security and development policy.
The forthcoming deployment will bolster already deep defence partnerships in the region, where the UK is committed to a more enduring regional defence and security presence. Ships from the Carrier Strike Group will participate in Exercise Bersama Lima to mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Agreement between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Engagements in Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan and India will provide the opportunity for strengthening our security relationships, tightening political ties and supporting our UK exports and International Trade agenda.”