Final test for British Navy Carrier Strike Group before first operational deployment

According to information published by the British Navy on May 1, 2021, Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has set sail from Portsmouth as the UK Carrier Strike Group prepares to join allied forces for its largest and most demanding exercise to date.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 British Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier sails from Portsmouth to join a naval exercise. (Picture source British Navy)

Warships HMS Defender, HMS Diamond Type 45 Daring-class air-defence destroyers and HMS Kent Type 23 Duke class frigate also sailed from the city while HMS Richmond also a type 23 frigate is due to sail from Plymouth. Meanwhile, Wildcat helicopters from 815 Naval Air Squadron have departed their base in Yeovilton to join the exercise.

Exercise Strike Warrior will involve more than 20 warships, three submarines and 150 aircraft from 11 nations and is a final test for the Carrier Strike Group ahead of its first operational deployment to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, and the Asia Pacific.

The exercise, which will run for two weeks, will see the task group pitted against warships from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 in waters off north-west Scotland to prove it is capable of undertaking high-intensity operations against the most demanding adversaries.

The culmination of Strike Warrior will see the Carrier Strike Group certified ready for deployment, at which point operational command will pass from the Royal Navy’s Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, to the Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key.

The British Nacy Carrier Strike Group consists of the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier, Tide-class Tanker, Type 45 Destroyer, Type 23 Frigate, and Astute-class submarine.

In the next few days, HMS Queen Elizabeth will once again embark 5th Generation fighters, comprising of 18 F-35 Lightning jets drawn from the UK’s 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, and VMFA-211 of the US Marine Corps, better known as the Wake Island Avengers.

The Carrier Air Wing also includes the largest concentration of helicopters in a Royal Navy task group in a decade, with three Merlin Mk4 from 845 NAS, four Wildcat from 815 NAS, and seven Merlin Mk2 from 820 NAS.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will be accompanied by destroyers HMS Diamond and HMS Defender, frigates HMS Richmond and HMS Kent and US Navy destroyer USS The Sullivans, which will form a ring of steel around the 65,000-tonne carrier.