The U.K. Carrier Strike Group during globe-spanning maiden deployment next month will feature visits to 40 countries including India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace will set out to Parliament the formidable size of the U.K. Carrier Strike Group, which will be led by new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
On the 28-week deployment spanning 26,000 nautical miles, units from the Carrier Strike Group are expected to visit more than 40 countries and undertake over 70 engagements, the U.K. Ministry of Defence 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,” Wallace said. “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.
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 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 U.K. Task Group in a decade.
And supporting below deck will be a company of Royal Marines Commandos.
A U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, HNLMS Evertsen Dutch frigate and a squadron of U.S. Marine Corps F-35B jets (ten aircraft) are also fully integrated.
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.
The U.K. Carrier Strike Group will be NATO’s first 5th generation Carrier Strike Group. 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.