War game puts Royal Navy's carrier strike group to the test

SAILORS who will be charged with protecting the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers have been put to the test in a state-of-the-art simulation.

Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 6:00 am
The USS Harry S Truman, part of the mock exercise by the carrier strike group

Battle staff from the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) have been tackling a series of exercises with the US Navy ahead of the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth later this year.

Working from a hi-tech simulator at Fareham’s naval base, HMS Collingwood, the team were put to the test during a set war games.

The scenarios involved using a US carrier strike force based thousands of miles away.

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The team were tasked with commanding US carrier, USS Harry S Truman, and were supported by operations room staff based on Portsmouth warships HMS Dragon and frigate HMS Richmond.

Regular and reserve personnel from across the naval Service, as well as staff from the RAF and defence experts from the US were also involved in the role-playing.

The latest exercise saw the CSG team tested in warfighting techniques involving HMS Queen Elizabeth and her 36 F-35B strike fighter jets.

Leading Writer Natalie Brady, of CSG, said: ‘The exercise allowed me to experience at first-hand how impressive carrier strike will be with all the cutting-edge technology in the ships and aircraft.’

The CSG is a powerful operational formation, comprising an aircraft carrier, air wing, destroyers and frigates and likely a submarine ready and able to conduct a range of missions around the globe.

Previous exercises have involved Portsmouth Type 23 frigates HMS St Albans and HMS Richmond, as well as Type 45 destroyer HMS Diamond.

All the ships have been tested in a range of anti-submarine, anti-surface and air missile defence.

The training is a crucial part of the navy’s plans to operate its two new 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers.

Commodore Andrew Betton, commander of CSG, said it was a key testing group for his sailors, adding: ‘Training in this way offers enormous benefit, not only in being more efficient and less expensive than live training, but also in allowing a highly-tailored training package, delivered in a short space of time, focussed on the specific training needs of the team.’