The U.K. Royal Navy has assembled its largest carrier strike group in almost 40 years, the service announced on Monday.
HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) assembled in the North Atlantic with a mix of U.K., American and Dutch warships as the Royal Navy prepared to for the first deployment of its new carrier force.
Embarked with 15 F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters – 10 from the “Wake Island Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 and five from the Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron “The Dambusters” – assembled as a strike group in the North Sea. A U.S. Marine detachment from the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company is also aboard Queen Elizabeth.
“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,” Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the U.K. Carrier Strike Group, said in the Monday statement.
“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,” he added.
The Queen Elizabeth strike group includes:
- HMS Diamond (D34) homeported in Portsmouth, U.K.
- HMS Defender (D36) homeported in Portsmouth, U.K.
- USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) homeported in Mayport, Fla.
- HMS Northumberland (F238) homeported in Devenport, U.K.
- HMS Kent (F78) homeported in Portsmouth, U.K.
- HNLMS Evertsen (F805) homeported in Del Helder, Netherlands.
- RFA Tideforce (A139)
- RFA Fort Victoria (A387)
The assembly of ships comes ahead of the U.K.-led Joint Warrior NATO exercise in the Atlantic. A total of 28 ships are set to exercise.
Spain-based destroyers USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) and USS Ross (DDG-71), Lewis and Clark resupply ship USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13) and two P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft based in Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy will participate in Joint Warrior.