Royal Navy ships prepare for carrier strike group operations

Royal Navy warships have been preparing for carrier strike group operations that will begin once the UK’s first Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier arrives this year.

The Commander UK Carrier Strike Group (COMUKCSG) battle staff has been conducting transatlantic exercises ahead of the arrival in Portsmouth later this year of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

RN personnel have been taking part in Fleet Synthetic Training exercises used to put US Navy carrier strike groups through their paces.

Working from the Maritime Composite Training System site at HMS Collingwood, US carrier strike groups, including the USS Harry S Truman, have worked with ops room personnel from HMS Dragon and HMS Richmond, both of which played the protection role for the carrier.

Regular and reserve personnel from across the naval service, as well as colleagues from the RAF and defence experts from the US have also been involved in the role-playing.

The latest exercise saw COMUKCSG tested in warfighting techniques involving HMS Queen Elizabeth and 36 F-35B strike fighter jets.

Leading Writer Natalie Brady, of CSG, said: “The exercise allowed me to experience at first hand how impressive carrier strike will be with all the cutting-edge technology in the ships and aircraft.”

Previous exercises have seen command and warfare teams from HMS St Albans, Richmond and Diamond take on the role of principal anti-submarine, anti-surface and air missile defence commanders working for CSG’s Information Warfare Commander Lieutenant Colonel Oli Coryton and Strike Warfare Commander Lieutenent Colonel Phil Kelly, both of whom were based in HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside Commodore Andrew Betton, Commander CSG.

“Training in this way offers enormous benefit, not only in being more efficient and less expensive than live training, but also in allowing a highly-tailored training package, delivered in a short space of time, focussed on the specific training needs of the team,” said Commodore Betton.

The next major step for CSG will be exercise Saxon Warrior this summer when Royal Navy battlestaff will embark in the USS George HW Bush for a multinational exercise around Britain.