Royal Navy aircraft carrier strike group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, enters Bay of Bengal, will exercise with Indian Navy - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Saturday 16 October 2021

Royal Navy aircraft carrier strike group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, enters Bay of Bengal, will exercise with Indian Navy

Multilateral exercises in the Indian Ocean region


The Royal Navy’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG), led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, sailed into the Bay of Bengal on 15th October in what is being billed as a powerful demonstration of the “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” agreed by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Boris Johnson in May 2021.


The Royal Navy CSG is on its way back from the South China Sea, where it underwent its first operational deployment.


In what the UK says is “its most substantial port visit to date”, the CSG will provide a platform for a wide range of cultural demonstrations and trade and investment initiatives between the British and Indian navies.


Subsequently, the CSG will take part in the most demanding maritime exercise ever between the UK and India, incorporating elements from all three military services.


According to a British High Commission press release, “The deployment is a powerful demonstration of the UK’s commitment to deepening its diplomatic, economic and security-based ties in the Indo-Pacific region. India is essential in ensuring a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific.” 


British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis said: “India is an essential partner for the UK in the Indo-Pacific region. The CSG’s visit demonstrates the deepening of the UK and India’s defence and security partnership.”


The Royal Navy’s First Sea Lord (the equivalent of our Chief of Naval Staff) Admiral Tony Radakin said: “The CSG’s engagement with India showcases the deepening comprehensive strategic partnership. Both the Indian and the Royal Navy are blue-water, multi-carrier navies, which places us in a very exclusive club. Our growing interactions are a testimony to the shared commitment to rules-based international system, a belief in the values of open trade, and in the importance of the freedom of the high seas – a right conveyed on all nations.”


By the time the flotilla returns to the UK, The maiden CSG deployment will have travelled 26,000 miles, and visited more than 40 countries.

The flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is the most powerful surface vessel in the Royal Navy’s history and, at65,000 tonnes, is the largest surface vessel ever constructed in the UK. Taller than Niagara Falls, her propellers generate the power of 50 high-speed trains. She leads six Royal Navy ships, a Royal Navy submarine, a US Navy destroyer and a frigate from the Netherlands in the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is equipped with the fifth generation F-35B Lightening II multi-role aircraft. The aircraft on board are being jointly crewed by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and the US Marine Corps.

The CSG is manned by 3,700 sailors, aviators and marines from the combined forces of the UK, US and the Netherlands.

The Netherlands frigate HNLMS Evertsen is part of the UK Carrier Strike Group. The navies of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have been working closely together for years and this joint activity offers a unique opportunity for both forces to integrate and operate together to respond to the global security challenges.

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