LONDON, ENGLAND — The last time that the British Navy had shown its attack capability was when it took action in April 1982 when the Argentine military forces invaded the Falklands and other British territories in the South Atlantic, briefly occupying them until a United Kingdom expeditionary force retook the territories in June the same year.
The brief hostilities triggered the UK into expanding its military presence in the area, building RAF Mount Pleasant and increasing the size of its garrison.
Today, once again Britain as one of the world’s dominant maritime power is flexing its naval muscle and this starts with the deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group which will feature visits to India, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore.
According to the UK’s Ministry of Defense, during the 28-week deployment spanning 26,000 nautical miles, the Carrier Strike Group will conduct engagements with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan, and India as part of Britain’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region.
Additionally, ‘CSG21’ will participate in NATO exercises such as Exercise Steadfast Defender, and provide support to NATO Operation Sea Guardian and maritime security operations in the Black Sea.
In this initiative, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said: “When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain – projecting our influence, signaling our power, engaging with our friends, and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow. The entire nation can be proud of the dedicated men and women who for more than six months will demonstrate to the world that the UK is not stepping back but sailing forth to play an active role in shaping the international system of the 21st Century.”
Units from the Carrier Strike Group are expected to visit more than 40 countries and undertake over 70 engagements, the ministry disclosed.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth, the most powerful surface vessel in the Royal Navy’s history, will next month set sail as the flagship of a Carrier Strike Group. Joining her will be a surface fleet of Type 45 destroyers, HMS Defender and HMS Diamond, Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring. Deep below the surface, a Royal Navy Astute-class submarine will be deployed in support, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles,” it added.
Providing a cutting edge on the carrier’s flight deck will be eight state-of-the-art RAF F-35B Lightning II fast jets and alongside will be four Wildcat maritime attack helicopters, seven Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine helicopters and three Merlin Mk4 commando helicopters—the greatest quantity of helicopters assigned to a single UK Task Group in a decade. And supporting below deck will be a company of Royal Marines Commandos. A US Navy destroyer, a frigate from the Netherlands and a squadron of US Marine Corps F-35B jets are also fully integrated.
“CSG21 will be a truly global deployment, from the North Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific. In Parliament, the Defense Secretary will explain how it will help achieve the UK’s goal for deeper engagement in the Indo-Pacific region in support of shared prosperity and regional stability—a stated aim of the British government’s recently published Integrated Review into foreign, defense, security and development policy.
British military officials revealed that the forthcoming deployment will bolster already deep defense partnerships in the region, where the UK is committed to a more enduring regional defense and security presence.
Ships from the Carrier Strike Group will participate in Exercise Bersama Lima to mark the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defense Agreement between Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Engagements in Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Japan and India will provide the opportunity for strengthening our security relationships, tightening political ties and supporting our UK exports and International Trade agenda.
The carrier and her escorts will head to Scotland shortly for Exercise Strike Warrior to test her capabilities before heading to the Asia-Pacific.
British prime minister Boris Johnson had earlier said in 2018 in response to concerns raised regarding freedom of navigation in the South China Sea: “One of the first things we will do with the two new colossal aircraft carriers that we have just built is send them on a freedom of navigation operation to this area, to vindicate our belief in the rules-based international system and in the freedom of navigation through those waterways which are absolutely vital for world trade.”
Chinese defense spokesman Tan Kefei, was quoted however: “The Chinese side believes that the South China Sea should not become a sea of great power rivalry dominated by weapons and warships. The real source of militarization in the South China Sea comes from countries outside this region sending their warships thousands of kilometers from home to flex muscles. The Chinese military will take necessary measures to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interest as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
(Sourced online by T. Cabrera/AI/MTVN)