ONE of America’s top military commanders hailed the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers as an ‘international game-changer’.
Rear Admiral Kenneth Whitesell gave the glowing endorsement of the two new leviathans from the bridge of American supercarrier USS George HW Bush yesterday.
The 100,000-tonne warship anchored off Stokes Bay for its second visit having been spearheading an international force against Isis in Iraq and Syria.
Speaking of Britain’s future carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, Rear Adm Whitesell, said they would help to ease stress on a ‘worn-out’, battle-hardened US fleet.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘We have been fighting essentially since 1991 with Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
‘So both the metal side of that – our hardware as well as our software, our human beings – have been worn out over the last decade.
‘To be able to bring Queen Elizabeth as well as the Prince of Wales in is going to be an incredible game-changer for us because now we can share some of that responsibility.
He added: ‘This is a world game-changer, it’s a good for the “good guys” and it’s not too good for the bad guys.’
The 1,092ft Nimitz class aircraft carrier, is one of 10 in the American naval fleet.
She is so vast that she cannot make it through the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour.
Her visit comes after a seven month deployment in the Gulf and the Mediterranean where she has launched dozens of airstrikes against Islamic State terrorists over 99 days.
They are now gearing up for the next part of their mission – Exercise Saxon Warrior, one of the largest war games co-hosted by the UK and US next week.
Running around the British isles for the next two weeks, the games will play a key role in helping the Royal Navy develop its future carrier strike force.
At the helm of the multinational event is Commodore Andrew Betton, commander of the Senior Service’s carrier strike group.
He said the exercise was helping to build towards Queen Elizabeth’s first operational deployment in the next decade.
‘This is a tremendous opportunity as we build up towards the carrier strike era of the Royal Navy and it is a fundamental change,’ he said. ‘It puts us back absolutely at the top table of maritime powers.’
Exercise Saxon Warrior begins on Monday.