Royal Navy 'back on the global stage' as Carrier Strike Group prepares to sail from Portsmouth

THE Royal Navy is back ‘on the global stage’ as final preparations are made for the carrier strike group to set sail with HMS Queen Elizabeth leading the way, a senior officer has said.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 1:35 pm

Portsmouth Naval Base is buzzing with British and American forces personnel as the Carrier Strike Group aims to sail on Saturday on exercise ahead of deployment.

Led by the Royal Navy with flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth, the group includes four other navy ships, two Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, USS Sullivan from America and a frigate from the Dutch navy.

Spare parts, food and supplies are being put on board all five navy vessels, and there's even a spot of redecorating taking place, with the ship getting a fresh lick of paint.

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Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of CSG21, in front of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Commodore Steve Moorhouse will be the commander of the strike group, designated CSG21.

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To him, this international operation represents a welcome return to form for the Royal Navy.

He said: ‘I remember my first deployment in 1998 was the last time we sent out a strike group of this size. I was on board HMS Illustrious at the time.

Colonel Simon Doran of the US Marine Corps in front of HMS Queen Elizabeth. There are 250 US Marines and sailors joining the Royal Navy on the flagship carrier. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘This strike group will be a persistent and sustained presence around the world – it's fantastic.

‘HMS Queen Elizabeth is at the centre of this operation; it's an international effort with the Americans and the Dutch, but to have the Royal Navy at the heart of something like this shows that we are well and truly back on the global stage.’

A total of 250 US Marines and sailors will also be on board the QE-Class carrier.

US Colonel Simon Doran will be liaising with the Royal Navy's top brass and advising on the deployment of the F-35 fighter jets.

The final preparations are being made on board HMS Queen Elizabeth - but the navy say everything will be ready in time. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Liverpool-born Col Doran said the strike group feels ‘like home’.

‘I first saw the carrier in 2019, and even now she looks just as incredible as she did back then,’ he said.

‘I think both potential adversaries and our allies have a clear symbol of our combined strength – to me it feels like a physical reaffirmation of our special relationship.

‘It's always a pleasure to serve alongside our British allies and surround ourselves with great people.’

This first deployment for CSG21 will last for around seven months, with more than 100 visits to 40 countries planned.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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