HMS Queen Elizabeth during Exercise Joint Warrior surrounded by other vessels as Carrier Strike Group forms 051020 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY 2
Navy

HMS Kent CO: 'Whole Career Has Been Working Towards Carrier Strike Group'

HMS Kent is currently taking part in Exercise Strike Warrior - the last workout before the Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.

HMS Queen Elizabeth during Exercise Joint Warrior surrounded by other vessels as Carrier Strike Group forms 051020 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY 2

HMS Kent's Commanding Officer has told Forces News the whole of his naval career has been building up to the upcoming Carrier Strike Group 2021 (CSG21) deployment.

The Type 23 frigate is with the Strike Group off the coast of Scotland taking part in Exercise Strike Warrior.

The training is the final workout before the Carrier Strike Group - led by aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth - deploys for the first time.

Commander Matt Sykes, HMS Kent's Commanding Officer, said: "The whole of my naval career, the last 25 years in the Royal Navy, has been working towards this moment of having a Carrier Strike Group back and being ready to deploy on the global stage."

Cdr Sykes said the ship's company "really feel ready to go" and added it feels as though the CSG21 deployment has "been a long time coming".

"The most common thing I hear from the ship's company as I wander around is that we need to get going, we're ready now," he said.

"This is the Royal Navy's biggest peacetime deployment for 25 years, it's the first time we've operated a big deck carrier on an operational deployment for 40 years, so it's really exciting to be ready for that."

Cdr Sykes said the exercise has seen HMS Kent take part in a "wide range of activities", from practising hunting submarines - the ship's main role in the Strike Group - to defending HMS Queen Elizabeth from an air attack.

"We've been doing loads of flying with our embarked Wildcat helicopter and our embarked Royal Marines boarding team have also been on standby throughout to conduct boarding," he said.

Watch: What makes up a Carrier Strike Group?

Exercise Strike Warrior has seen the ship operate from the south coast of England, the Bristol Channel, the Irish Sea, the south of Scotland and now, the northwest part of Scotland.

"That's certainly the biggest geographic range I've ever done in an exercise of this nature," he said.

"I think it is linked to the fact that a Carrier Strike Group can move hundreds of miles a day and therefore we've got to use the whole of the UK to exercise."

The Carrier Strike Group deployment will see HMS Kent joined by HMS Richmond, another Type 23 frigate, and two Type 45 Destroyers – HMS Defender and HMS Diamond.

A Royal Navy Astute-class submarine will also be deployed, alongside two Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, RFA Tidespring and RFA Fort Victoria, American destroyer USS The Sullivans and Dutch ship HNLMS Evertsen.

During the 28-week deployment, the group will visit India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore and the wider region.

The deployment will be the largest concentration of maritime and airpower to leave the UK in a generation.

Cover image: HMS Queen Elizabeth during Exercise Joint Warrior last year surrounded by other vessels as Carrier Strike Group forms (Picture: Royal Navy).