UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is marking the final days of deployment dubbed as “UK’s largest, most complex maritime deployment in a generation” led by the Royal Navy’s flagship, aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
UK’s CSG embarked on its maiden deployment in May this year, after HMS Queen Elizabeth left the Portsmouth base. Following the exercises off the Scottish coastline, the ships of the Carrier Strike Group dispersed briefly before sailing for their deployment, which will take them to Japan and back over the next seven-and-a-half months. HMS Queen Elizabeth returned to Portsmouth, after sailing with sister ship HMS Prince of Wales off the UK coastline, but left late on 22 May for its mission after a royal visit.
During the 28-week deployment, the task group consisting of the navy’s ships aircraft, sailors and the Royal Marines visited more than 40 countries and sailed a combined 500,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back.
The nations that the UK’s CSG visited include India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore.
The group also joined up and took part in exercises with French carrier FS Charles De Gaulle in the Mediterranean as well as navies and aircraft from allies such as the US, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan and the UAE.
Joining HMS Queen Elizabeth on its maiden deployment were destroyers HMS Diamond and Defender; frigates HMS Richmond and Kent; an Astute-class submarine in support below the waves; and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.
A Royal Navy tanker that kept HMS Queen Elizabeth and its escort warships fuelled and ready for operations, RFA Tidespring, was the first one that returned home. The tanker, along with its Royal Fleet Auxiliary sister RFA Fort Victoria, has kept the task group –nine ships, one submarine, 32 aircraft and more than 3700 personnel – supplied with everything from fuel to ammunition and food.
Furthermore, the ship carried out 111 replenishment at sea tasks supplying fuel and stores to ships from Canada, Denmark, France, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States in addition to the UK.
According to the navy’s officials, it also became the first Tide-class tanker to transit the Suez Canal, to deploy East of Suez and operationally to the Indo-Pacific, plus the first to sail in the Southern Hemisphere.
Uk’s Type 23 frigate HMS Richmond led the way protecting the navy’s flagship from a range of threats. The frigate also operated alone enforcing UN sanctions in the East China Sea.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, together with HMS Defender, HMS Diamond and HMS Kent, is due to be back in Portsmouth later this week.