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Maiden UK Carrier Strike Group deployment draws closer

26th April 2021 - 15:45 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea. (Photo: USN/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Wagner)

HMS Queen Elizabeth will embark in May on a 28-week deployment.

UK Secretary of State Ben Wallace shed more light on 26 April about what the MoD described as the ‘globe-spanning maiden deployment’ of the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth.

On a 28-week deployment commencing in May 2021 and covering 26,000nmi, the CSG will conduct exercises and engagement with allied navies (India, Japan, Singapore and South Korea) ‘as part of the UK’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region’, the MoD noted.

The CSG 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.

Wallace confirmed that Queen Elizabeth will be joined by two Type 45 destroyers (HMS Defender and HMS Diamond), two Type 23 ASW frigates (HMS Kent and HMS Richmond) and the fleet support vessels RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.

A single Astute-class submarine (as yet unnamed) will offer sub-surface support.

‘Providing a cutting edge on the carrier’s flight deck will be eight state-of-the-art RAF F-35B Lightning II fast jets,’ Wallace added. ‘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.’

Also involved in the CSG are the USN Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS The Sullivans, a squadron of ten USMC F-35B aircraft and the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Evertsen.

On the Mediterranean leg of the deployment, the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle will sail alongside Queen Elizabeth for a period of dual-carrier operations. 

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