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UK carrier works with South Korean Navy off Busan

HMS Queen Elizabeth off South Korea
Photo: Royal Navy

In the latest milestone achieved as part of its maiden deployment to the Indo Pacific, the UK’s carrier strike group worked alongside ships from the Republic of Korea Navy during three days of events near Busan.

The Carrier Strike Group with HMS Queen Elizabeth at its heart are currently deep into the Indo-Pacific leg of their seven-month deployment that has taken them across the globe working with allies and partners in the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and into the Pacific.

Their latest foray has seen them conduct joint maritime maneuvers with ROK Navy ships, with Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, Commodore Steve Moorhouse, thanking the ROK for “their enthusiastic support to the CSG21 deployment”.

During the maneuvers, HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed alongside the ROK Navy amphibious assault ship ROKS Dokdo (LPH-6111), the service’s flagship and currently the largest vessel in the fleet.

Prior to exercises off Busan, the air wings from US aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and HMS Queen Elizabeth put on a display of air power, as jets from the carriers trained to work together by practicing techniques, tactics and procedures, which included mid-air refueling.

It’s the first time the US and UK carrier strike groups have worked together and it saw the two F-35B Lightning jet squadrons from Queen Elizabeth work closely with four F-35C Lightnings, five F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, two EA-18G Growlers and a E-2D Advanced Hawkeye from USS Carl Vinson.

It was the first time the UK Carrier Strike Group has interacted with the ‘C’ model of the F-35 jet, which is intended for catapult launches from aircraft carriers opposed to the short take-off and vertical landing versions that HMS Queen Elizabeth operates.

Colonel Simon Doran, US Senior National Representative to the UK CSG, said: “Integrating United Kingdom and US Marine Corps F-35Bs into a flight with US Navy F-35Cs continues to reinforce the tactical flexibility of the F-35.

“Additionally, the mission further demonstrates the F-35’s ability to support distributed maritime operations, refuelling 5th generation aircraft from Super Hornets allows the United States and our allies to operate stealth fighters inside contested areas where legacy platforms could would be vulnerable.”

The UK CSG then looked to the Korean peninsula and exercises with the Republic of Korea Navy.

“CSG21 has taken us from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Mediterranean, across the Indian Ocean and has brought us here to the Western Pacific for a series of exercises and engagements with regional partners, including the Republic of Korea,” said Cdre Moorhouse.

“The UK, like the Republic of Korea, is an outward looking trading nation committed to contributing to the maritime security which underpins global prosperity.

“By sailing here we make clear our determination to work with like-minded nations in support of an open and transparent system of international rules.

“Our aim is to strengthen the ties between our two countries and pave the way for closer cooperation in the future.”

Meanwhile, HMS Richmond has stopped in Guam for a reset and HMS Diamond will shortly head through the Suez Canal shortly to deliver operations supporting the Carrier Strike Group after repairs were completed in Taranto in Italy.

HMS Diamond was forced to break away from the CSG after being sidelined by undisclosed technical defects. The ship spent almost two months in Taranto, Italy, undergoing engine repairs.