U.K. carrier strike group demonstrates flexibility, interoperability on maiden deployment across Indo-Pacific
As the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) continues its maiden deployment throughout the Indo-Pacific, it is conducting drills with allies and partners that highlight how the U.K.’s maritime and air power capabilities complement and bolster their own.
Led by the U.K.’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, CSG21 left the North Atlantic in May 2021 as part of Operation Fortis. It’s projected to travel 26,000 nautical miles on a voyage that will last through December 2021. Along the way, CSG21, the United States and regional allies and partners are conducting operations in line with international law, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. (Pictured: United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) takes part in Noble Union, a series of exercises to test naval concepts, develop techniques and procedures and showcase interoperability among CSG21, Japan and the United States.)
In late August, CSG21, the USS America Expeditionary Strike Group and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit held advanced aviation operations in support of Large-Scale Exercise 2021, a two-week display of synchronized joint forces power in contested environments across 17 time zones. While sailing together, the strike groups conducted large-formation steaming maneuvers, anti-submarine and surface warfare exercises and aviation integration events to enhance capability and proficiency throughout all domains, according to U.S. 7th Fleet.
“The ability for the United States and the United Kingdom to be interoperable and operate their fifth generation jets from the same deck at the same time is testament to the special relationship between our countries,” Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the U.K.’s Carrier Strike Group, said, according to U.S. 7th Fleet. “The U.K. Carrier Strike Group offers the largest fifth generation air wing afloat today and working with our close allies to develop operating procedures and capabilities while concurrently showcasing the agility of land and carrier-based aviation in the Indo-Pacific demonstrates our commitment to the region.”
Also in August, CSG21 announced details of a joint drill with the Republic of Korea Navy to conduct search and rescue and maritime mobile logistics drills for humanitarian purposes. The U.K. also planned to invite South Korean government and industry representatives to see how U.K. carriers work at sea and to discuss mutual interests such as bilateral cooperation, maritime security and regional stability, according to the U.K. Embassy in Seoul.
“For years, we have operated with partners, and we’ve been able to talk and communicate,” Moorhouse said in August, according to Seapower magazine. “But what we’re really trying to do here is take it to the next level of integrating.”
IMAGE CREDIT: U.S. PACIFIC FLEET