Royal Navy reservists had 'opportunity of a lifetime' deploying with the carrier strike group

ROYAL Navy reservists have told of having the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ deploying with Britain’s mighty carrier strike group on its epic mission to the Far East.

By Tom Cotterill
Monday, 13th December 2021, 1:49 pm

More than 3,700 personnel were sent on the navy’s odyssey to the Orient as part of the most powerful naval task force in Europe.

The group of nine warships, made up of seven British vessels – including aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth - returned home last week.

As well as all the regular personnel deployed on the mission to the Far East, a handful of part-time sailors were also mobilised.

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Left to right are Lt Cdr Young, Lt Cdr Church, Lt Livesey and AB Robert Paul ‘Dicky’ Dyke on board HMS Queen Elizabeth.

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Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the task group commander, was full of praise for the reservists and said: ‘It is important to recognise the contribution of reservists from all three services who are supporting CSG21, at sea and from the UK, bringing their specialist skills to bear.’

Lieutenant Commander Phil Richardson, from the naval reserve’s air branch, said he ‘jumped at the chance to deploy’.

His role saw him liaising with the four squadrons of aircraft on the 65,000-tonne leviathan, made up of F-35 stealth jets, and Merlin helicopters.

Lieutenant Commander Phil Richardson, from the naval reserve’s air branch, said he ‘jumped at the chance to deploy’.

‘This was an opportunity of a lifetime for an experienced aviator,’ he said. ‘It’s been a really rewarding experience where I felt my contribution – and that of other reservists – has been truly valued. We have offered ‘strength in reserve’ and directly contributed to operational capability.’

Lieutenant Joe Livesey from HMS Ferret works for the Treasury in his day job, most recently organising the UK’s presidency of G7 finance ministers.

He served as a watchkeeper for the task group, monitoring potential threats facing the ships.

Surgeon Commander Michael Wilson is a specialist in emergency general surgery/major trauma injuries on HMS Queen Elizabeth

‘I particularly enjoyed working directly with our American counterparts, utilising their knowledge and gaining first-hand operational experience of how other militaries operate in the South and East China Seas,’ he said.

Surgeon Commander Michael Wilson is a specialist in emergency general surgery/major trauma injuries.

‘Being part of a deployed surgical team at sea has been both personally and professionally rewarding. It has been a huge privilege to have the consistency of working with the same team every day,’ he said.

Traffic officer AB Robert 'Dicky' Dyke is normally found on the M1 working for the National Highways Agency. The former regular has nearly 40 years’ service as a full and part-time sailor under his belt and assisted shipmates on safe submarine operations on what could be his final deployment.

‘Being on the flagship, working for the carrier strike group, Operation Fortis has been an experience never to be forgotten,’ he said.

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