The American guided-missile destroyer that has worked with the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) for more than a year is returning home, the U.K. Royal Navy announced on Tuesday.
USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) left the carrier strike group on Oct. 19 after operating with the multi-national CSG since the deployment began in May. The CSG sailed through the Suez Canal and operated extensively in the western Pacific.
“The destroyer and her 280-strong crew have made a significant contribution, both in the pre-deployment exercising off the coast of Scotland last spring and throughout the CSG’s deployment since May,” reads a statement from the U.K. Ministry of Defence.
“USS The Sullivans played a key role in numerous exercises from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and back, including countries like Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore, as well as NATO. Such exercises develop interoperability between militaries, enhancing regional stability and security.”
Queen Elizabeth deployed in May with a blended air wing of U.K. Royal Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and an international group of escorts to include The Sullivans and Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805).
Along with the Royal Navy Type-45 destroyers that embarked with Queen Elizabeth, The Sullivans provided air defense protection for the strike group.
The deployment’s model for a mix-and-match strike group of international partners is a model the U.K. will employ in the future with Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (R09).
“What we’ve been debating is interchangeability. So, when we’re looking at maintaining our freedom of maneuver in the North Atlantic. Does it really matter whether it’s a U.S submarine or a U.K. submarine?” First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Adm. Tony Radakin told USNI News earlier this month.
“When I look at the deck of Queen Elizabeth, does it matter whether it’s the U.S. Marine Corps jet, or a Royal Navy jet or Royal Air Force jets? And actually, when you put the fact that you’ve got two different nations operating off one nation’s carrier, it magnifies the importance because of the amazing investments that it takes in a sort of nationhood to trust each other to that extent.”
Since deploying in May, the strike group has sailed 40,000 nautical miles, “through the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Philippine Sea. The main body of the group is currently visiting India in a powerful demonstration of the UK-India Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” reads a statement from the MoD.
“USS The Sullivans will return to national tasking in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean over the coming weeks.”