HMS Queen Elizabeth: Captain warns that UK needs to keep strong naval power to counter rising Russian activityÂ
RESURGENT powers threatening to destabilise global security must be taken seriously, the commander of Britain's biggest-ever warship has stressed.
Captain Jerry Kyd, commanding officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, admitted he is worried by the surge of Russian military activity '“Â which he described as '˜eye-watering'.
The top naval officer also said other rising military powers like China needed to be kept in check to maintain peace in the South China Sea, not ruling out the possibility of future Royal Navy deployments to the region with western partners to '˜maintain the maritime rule of law'.
Capt Kyd's comments come as he today leads his ship on its biggest mission since commissioning into the Royal Navy in December.
The Portsmouth-based warship will be spending several months in the United States undergoing trials of the F-35B stealth jet.
The experienced officer claimed the trials would be something Britain's allies '“Â and enemies alikeÂ '“Â would be watching closely.
Capt Kyd dismissed concerns the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier would be threatened by Russian submarines snooping on the vast warship in the Atlantic.
But he said his team would be on guard, adding: '˜The increase in Russian activity we have seen in the last couple of years is frightening.
'˜For national security reasons, it just underlines why we need to maintain a balanced, strong, able and capable fleet.
'˜It's been quite eye-watering for the last couple of years.'
Queen Elizabeth will be travelling to the US accompanied by a small task force of warships, including Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth, which will soon be based in Portsmouth alongside the carrier.
Commodore Andrew Betton will be in charge of the task force and will be based on the Royal Navy's future flagship.
He said the warship would be well protected during her transit to the US, although he would not be drawn on whether these defences would include British submarines.
Speaking of the threat in the Atlantic, he said: '˜Russian submarines are more active in the north Atlantic [now than] since the Cold War and we take that very seriously.
'˜The ship will be well protected as she makes the transit across the Atlantic. We will seek to operate professionally within the standard laws of the high seas operating in international waters as we go about our business.
'˜We're not seeking confrontation, we're heading to the United States to conduct trials.'
Capt Kyd said the government and allies across the globe needed to take stock of the increase in military activity.
His comments come days after the defence sub-committee urged Whitehall to increase Britain's military presence in the Arctic to counter recent Russian expansion into the territory.
Meanwhile China's navy has been rapidly expanding in recent years, with the country now creating its own carrier strike force in a bid to rival the likes of America.
Chinese president Jinping vowed in October last year to turn China's military into a world-class fighting force by 2050.
Capt Kyd said it was vital Britain remained a '˜credible' military fighting force, adding the creation of Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, '˜came in the nick of time'.
Defending the value of the two carriers, which cost the taxpayers a total of Â£6.2bn, he added: '˜If you look round at the primary power-projection navy's in the world, aircraft carriers alongside nuclear submarines are your two mainstay strategic assets.
'˜So to not have aircraft carriers and denude yourself of that influence effect would be folly.
'˜We remain an island nation with worldwide obligations, not least foreign overseas territories but also the contingency that may be required in the South China seas, the Baltic area or across the world.
'˜We saw that in 1982 where we are absolutely useless in predicting always the next conflict.
'˜(In the Falklands War) we had to act as a sovereign nation, on our own to safeguard British territory and British people.
'˜Clearly the rise of Chinese seapower and the reinvigoration of Russian activity is a reminder the Royal Navy must be able to operate at range from the UK, sufficiently and able-supported and most importantly with military credibility.'