As the British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and its carrier strike group prepares to set off on its maiden operational deployment, a seven-month jaunt around the world, it was joined in the North Atlantic Ocean by U.S. Navy ships and Marines taking part in the Ragnar Viking exercise .
“As a final act of expert planning and coordination, about 9,000 military members from several NATO nations converged on one spot in the North Atlantic today,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Darren Nelson, commodore of Amphibious Squadron Four, in a Navy news release.
The joint exercise Monday featured 15 ships from four NATO countries, including the UK Carrier Strike Group and the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group with its embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, according to the release.
The convergence of exercises Strike Warrior, led by Queen Elizabeth, and the U.S.-led Ragnar Viking demonstrated NATO’s ability to coordinate major, separate operations at the same time.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth and the USS Iwo Jima represent a substantial concentration of maritime-based air power,” said Royal Navy Capt. Angus Essenhigh, commanding officer of the Queen Elizabeth, in the release. “With the involvement of warships from four NATO members, including HMS Albion, our rendezvous in the North Atlantic demonstrates the collective strength of the Alliance.”
Exercise Strike Warrior 21, which involved more than 20 warships, three submarines and 84 aircraft, served as a final test for the UK Carrier Strike Group before it leaves Sunday on its first operational deployment to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific. F-35s
“Military assets from 10 different nations took part in the exercise off the coast of North West Scotland, which saw ships from a range of partner nations deploy a range of advanced threats against the group,” according to a UK Ministry of Defence press release. “Our state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jets conducted missile firings during the exercise, marking the first time British jets have done so at sea for 15 years.”
During its global deployment, the Queen Elizabeth will be carrying 10 U.S. Marine F-35Bs.
The next step in the process will take place in 2021 when the Marines once again join the Queen Elizabeth to take part in a full length deployment.
Ragnar Viking, a U.S.-led multilateral operational exercise in the Norwegian, North and Baltic seas, included long-range strike demonstrations, amphibious landings and anti-submarine warfare. U.S. Air Force aircraft also took part in the exercise, according to the Navy press release.
“There is simply no substitute for U.S. presence in Europe and the ARG/MEU remains committed to support our allies and partners with our flexible maneuverable force ready to meet emerging missions or contingencies, humanitarian crisis, reassure our partners, enhance security, and ensure the free flow of commerce in the region,” Nelson said.