Royal Navy's New Carrier Strike Group Assembles For First Time


The Royal Navy’s new Carrier Strike Group has assembled for the first time.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Strike Group are currently exercising alongside allied nations in the North Sea as part of Exercise Joint Warrior - NATO's largest annual exercise.

The Strike Group is the largest and most powerful European-led maritime force in almost 20 years, according to the Royal Navy.

It is made up of nine ships, 15 fighter jets, 11 helicopters and 3,000 personnel from the UK, US and the Netherlands.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said: "The new UK Carrier Strike Group is the embodiment of British maritime power, and sits at the heart of a modernised and emboldened Royal Navy.

"Protected by a ring of advanced destroyers, frigates, helicopters and submarines, and equipped with fifth-generation fighters, HMS Queen Elizabeth is able to strike from the sea at a time and place of our choosing; and with our NATO allies at our side, we will be ready to fight and win in the most demanding circumstances.

"Carrier Strike offers Britain choice and flexibility on the global stage; it reassures our friends and allies and presents a powerful deterrent to would-be adversaries."

Two F-35B Lightning aircraft squadrons are embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture: Royal Navy).
Two F-35B Lightning aircraft squadrons are embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture: Royal Navy).

The Carrier Strike Group is made up of Royal Navy Type 45s HMS Diamond and HMS Defender, frigates HMS Northumberland and HMS Kent, US Navy Arleigh Burke-class USS The Sullivans and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Evertsen.

The ships will protect HMS Queen Elizabeth from enemy ships, submarines, aircraft and missiles, and can conduct a range of supporting missions, from maritime security to disaster relief.

They are supported by Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, RFA Tideforce and RFA Fort Victoria, supplying fuel, food, spares and ammunition. 

Two squadrons of F-35Bs embarked on the aircraft carrier for the exercise last month. 

With 14 jets, and eight Merlin helicopters, it is the largest concentration of fighter jets to operate at sea from a Royal Navy carrier in almost 40 years.

The aircraft carrier, which costs more than £3 billion and weighs 65,000 tonnes, is expected to deploy on operations for the first time in 2021.

Her deployment from Portsmouth to form the Carrier Strike Group was delayed last month following cases of coronavirus among her crew. 

Portugal, Belgium, Canada, France, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania and Australia are also taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior.

Last year, HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Canada along with other Royal Navy ships to spearhead a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) deployment.