Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and its Carrier Strike Group (CSG) pulled into Apra Harbor in the midst of the CSG21 deployment to the Indo-Pacific region, August 6.
The deployment is the UK’s first by a carrier strike group in the Indo-Pacific for almost 25 years.
HMS Queen Elizabeth pulled into Guam after exercising with several navies while passing through the Strait of Malacca. The group also sailed in the South China Sea but did not conduct freedom of navigation operations near China’s disputed artificial archipelagos in the South China Sea. It is unclear whether this will take place on the return leg of the group’s deployment, but China has already expressed satisfaction with the Royal Navy’s behavior in the region.
Deployed together with HMS Queen Elizabeth and a group of accompanying Royal Navy ships are US guided missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG 68) and Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805). Additionally, F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters of the US Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 are flying from the flight deck alongside their UK counterparts.
“CSG21 is a prime example of the powerful partnerships we have, not just with our neighbors in this region, but around the world,” said Rear Adm. Benjamin Nicholson, commander, Joint Region Marianas. “The UK is one of our most stalwart and skilled allies, and their participation in our exercises and operations in the Pacific is a demonstration of the deep relationship we share in terms of defense and deterrence of our adversaries.”
Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group said: “The arrival of the Carrier Strike Group in Guam is an important milestone for CSG21. Since we left the UK in May, our journey has taken us from the familiar waters of the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean, across the Indian Ocean and into the Western Pacific.
During this time we have undertaken exercises and engagements with more than 20 nations,” said Moorhouse. “Our visit to Guam provides an opportunity for some much deserved rest and recreation. We are grateful to the US Navy for the use of their facilities and we look forward to exploring this beautiful Pacific Island.”