USS George H.W. Bush Operates with French, Italian Carriers in the Ionian Sea

U.S., French and Italian aircraft carriers operated together near Italy, the Navy announced on Wednesday. USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) joined with Italian carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) and the French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) for unspecified exercises in the Ionian Sea a week after the Pentagon announced five allied carriers would operate in […]

From top clockwise ITS Cavour (CVH 550), FS Charles de Gaulle (R91), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)

U.S., French and Italian aircraft carriers operated together near Italy, the Navy announced on Wednesday.

USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) joined with Italian carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) and the French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91) for unspecified exercises in the Ionian Sea a week after the Pentagon announced five allied carriers would operate in Europe.

“We are stronger when we work together, and operations like these highlight not only our interoperability, but our interchangeability with our partner and allies,” Rear Adm. Dennis Velez, commander, Carrier Strike Group 10 said in a statement.

Bush, its escorts and the embarked Carrier Air Wing 7 have been operating in the Mediterranean Sea since August. Prior to Bush’s arrival to the region, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), its escorts and CVW-1 had been in the Mediterranean Sea since December ahead of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Both carriers have exercised with Charles de Gaulle and Cavour going in and out of NATO command while flying presence missions along NATO’s eastern front and have been operating mainly around Italy.

Charles de Gaulle left its homeport of Toulon last week for Mission Antares which will see the carrier and its airwing deploy to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean with about 3,000 sailors, according to the French Navy.

“The CSG demonstrates France’s ability to intervene by controlling any escalation The sea and air operations of the carrier strike group are coordinated with the allies,” reads a statement from the French MoD.

Its escorts include ships from France, the U.S. and Greece but the French Navy did not specify the specific ships.

Ship spotters identified U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG-80), Hellenic Navy Elli-class frigate Adrias (F459), Italian Navy FREMM frigate Virginio Fasan (F591) and French Navy FREMM DA frigate Alsace (D656) departing with the carrier, according to Naval News.

Not included in the exercise, the U.K. carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) is operating in the Atlantic taking over for missions that were earmarked for the now side-lined HMS Prince of Wales (R09).

Pentagon leaders highlighted the several NATO carriers underway last week.

“These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate critical combat power throughout the Euro-Atlantic area while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability,” Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Thursday.

The five NATO carriers in Europe will be soon down to four. Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) which has operated in the Atlantic since leaving Naval Station Norfolk, Va., on Oct. 4, is set to return to the U.S. on Saturday, U.S. 2nd Fleet announced.

5 Aircraft Carriers Set to Operate Together in Europe for NATO Exercise

U.S. aircraft carriers USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) will exercise with aircraft carriers from France, Italy and the United Kingdom as part of a joint operation across Europe meant to show NATO interoperability, the Pentagon announced Thursday. The two American carrier strike groups, their embarked air wings and escorts […]

From top left clockwise USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), FS Charles de Gaulle (R91), HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), ITS Cavour (CVH 550), USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)

U.S. aircraft carriers USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) will exercise with aircraft carriers from France, Italy and the United Kingdom as part of a joint operation across Europe meant to show NATO interoperability, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The two American carrier strike groups, their embarked air wings and escorts will be operating in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea along with the U.K. Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), Italian carrier ITS Cavour (CVH 550) and the French FS Charles de Gaulle (R 91), Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, told reporters Thursday.

“These operations present an opportunity for allied nations to coordinate critical combat power throughout the Euro-Atlantic area while showcasing NATO cohesion and interoperability,” Singh said. “It is also an opportunity to test allied cooperation and to practice NATO’s deter and defend concepts across all geographic areas, operational domains and functional areas of the alliance.”

Singh referred questions about the joint operations to U.S. European Command.

The George H.W. Bush CSG has been operating in the Mediterranean since August when it replaced the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group. Bush and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) operated together briefly before Truman returned home to Norfolk, Va., the first time two U.S. aircraft carriers were in the Mediterranean together in several years. During its deployment, Truman exercised with Charles de Gaulle and Cavour.

As of Thursday afternoon, Ford was off Portsmouth, England, according to local ship spotters.

Charles de Gaulle departed France on Nov. 15 as part of the Mission Antares, according to a French news release. The mission includes 3,000 service members from France and partners.

As part of the Antares, the French carrier will operate with ships from the Hellenic, Italian and American navies, according to the release.

Queen Elizabeth has largely taken over the operations for HMS Prince of Wales (R09), which is undergoing a repair to its propulsion system, USNI News previously reported. Queen Elizabeth stepped in for some of Prince of Wales’ port visits, including to New York, before it shipped out for a planned deployment in the Atlantic.

HMS Queen Elizabeth Departs U.K. to Sub for Damaged HMS Prince of Wales in East Coast Tour

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) set sail for the U.S. on Wednesday while its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (R09) prepares for a major repair to its propulsion system, the U.K. Royal Navy announced. Ahead of a planned European deployment, Queen Elizabeth will step in for some of the stops for Prince […]

HMS Queen Elizabeth sails from Portsmouth on Sept. 7, 2022. UK Royal Navy Photo

British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) set sail for the U.S. on Wednesday while its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales (R09) prepares for a major repair to its propulsion system, the U.K. Royal Navy announced.

Ahead of a planned European deployment, Queen Elizabeth will step in for some of the stops for Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy said.

“In the coming months, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be at the heart of a powerful task group made up of thousands of sailors, up to ten ships, F-35B Lightning [II] jets, helicopter squadrons and Royal Marines Commandos which will operate across Europe this autumn,” reads a statement from the Royal Navy.
“But the aircraft carrier will first deploy to the East Coast of the United States to undertake parts of HMS Prince of Wales’ deployment – as her sister ship undergoes repairs.”

Shortly after Prince of Wales left for the East Coast in late August, the carrier’s propulsion system was damaged and it limped back to port for repairs, canceling its U.S. stops that would have included F-35B qualifications and playing host for a defense conference in New York.

The Royal Navy said a connection in the starboard drive shaft that links the carrier’s prime movers to the props failed, resulting in major damage to the propulsion system.

“Royal Navy divers have inspected the starboard shaft of the ship and the adjacent areas. And they have confirmed that there is significant damage to the shaft and the propeller, and some superficial damage to the rudder, but no damage to the rest of the ship,” Royal Navy Rear Adm. Steve Moorhouse said in a video posted on Twitter last week.
“Our initial assessment has shown that a coupling which joins the final two sections of the shaft has failed. Now this is an extremely unusual fault, and we continue to pursue or repair options. We’re working to stabilize the shafts section and the propeller, after which the ship will return to Portsmouth. The ship will then probably need to enter a drydock as this will be the safest and quickest way to affect the repairs.”

The Royal Navy is now preparing to fix Prince of Wales.

Queen Elizabeth completed its inaugural deployment to the Western Pacific last year with a mixed air wing of U.K. and U.S. Marines F-35Bs and an international group of escorts to include USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) and Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805).

The next deployment will focus on Europe.

Queen Elizabeth will primarily be focused on operations in the Baltic and work closely with forces from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden,” reads the statement.
“Together, these nations form the U.K.-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which is designed to react to crises whenever and wherever they unfold.”

First Sea Lord: U.K. Royal Navy Will Keep Persistent Presence in Pacific

The U.K. Royal Navy is returning to its historic persistent presence in the Indo-Pacific while at the same time ensuring its stature as the foremost navy in Europe, according to the United Kingdom’s senior naval officer. Speaking Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff […]

An F-35B Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Wake Island Avengers’ of Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VFMA) 211, launches from the flight deck of U.K. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), while the ship steams alongside Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), and Japan Maritime Self- Defense Force Izumo-class helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH-184), as the ships transit the Bay of Bengal as part of Maritime Partnership Exercise (MPX), Oct. 17, 2021. US Navy Photo

The U.K. Royal Navy is returning to its historic persistent presence in the Indo-Pacific while at the same time ensuring its stature as the foremost navy in Europe, according to the United Kingdom’s senior naval officer.

Speaking Wednesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff Adm Ben Key, said by “persistent” he means a “reliable” presence of two patrol craft and longer, larger deployments. The goal is “building more profound relationships” with other nations in the Indo-Pacific, he added.

The Royal Navy “will be listening humbly” to what others have to say on their needs, he said.“After all, it’s their waters,” he said, and when asked the Royal Navy can provide leadership in meeting their needs to counter an aggressive and bullying China.

Key said exercising in the Indo-Pacific with the United States, France, Japan, New Zealand and Australia and NATO allies like the Netherlands is deterring Beijing’s ambitions in the South China Sea. It also tests the interoperability of naval forces addressing common threats that include China’s naval militias encroaching on other nations’ exclusive economic zones, which are vital for fisheries.

The Indo-Pacific “was an area [Britain] knew well,” dating from Captain James Cook’s explorations of those waters in the 18th century and the realization now of its importance to the continued free flow of trade in the 21st century, Key said.

“We’re going to have to [protect trade and national sovereignty] in partnerships” with the United States and other allies, he said.

He said the same rationale applied to Russia, which has been trying to close off the Black Sea to other nations as it ratchets up pressure on Ukraine. “We need to respond to that,” he said. “The high seas by their very nature are open to everybody … going about our own lawful activity.”

Key added, “we have a right to protect ourselves” by closely monitoring Russian naval activities in United Kingdom waters.

Adm. Ben Key became the nation’s most senior sailor aboard flagship HMS Victory. Royal Navy Photo

“I’ve been challenged by the government to grow the Navy,” he said. That includes fielding the first two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and Prince of Wales (R09), designed and built for fifth-generation aircraft operations. On the deployment of the Queen Elizabeth II Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21), he said, “we tested ourselves across all three theaters” successfully.

He called the two carriers “such a step up” for the Royal Navy.

Key, who took the role in November, said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government recognized the “increasing importance of being able [to deploy] across the global commons … to achieve what we want to” as a nation. He said it also was a turn away from the counterterrorist land campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq of the past 20 years.

When asked about the Australia-United Kingdom-United States agreement to share technology and eventually to have Canberra field nuclear-powered submarines, Key said the pact was “a really good example of opening up [by sharing critical technologies such as undersea battlespace] rather than closing down.”

Key said that he was proud to be “part of a service that embraced innovation,” like steam over sail and exploring autonomous systems today. But after 38 years in uniform, he realizes that the career path he chose is not as appealing to possible recruits and officers. He said there needed to be a mechanism for those who want to serve for a time, leave the Royal Navy, and return without having to start over again as a midshipman.

“The Royal Navy is brimming with ideas,” he said. It has a force full of “energy, [with] entrepreneurial spirit” that needs opportunities to grow. This openness in the Royal Navy to adapt to change and meet individuals’ expectations also makes it a more attractive choice for young men and women beginning their careers.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Dec. 13, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 13, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 13, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

295

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
51 20 71

In Yokosuka, Japan

Cmdr. Cody Lutke from Shreveport, Louisiana gives a tour of the pilot house to students from the National Defense Academy of Japan aboard the U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) on Dec. 4, 2021 in Yokosuka, Japan. U.S. Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In Sasebo, Japan

Lt. Cmdr. Tyler Maness, assigned to Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 11, conducts a tour of the flight deck aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) for allies from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on Dec. 8, 2021 in Sasebo, Japan. U.S. Navy Photo

The ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) are in port in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Indian Ocean

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) conducts a replenishment-at-sea with Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204), Dec. 7, 2021 in the Philippine Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Indian Ocean, off the northwest coast of Australia.

Aircraft carrier
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 2

Double rainbows form on the horizon while an EA-18G Growler, assigned to the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136, is stowed on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Dec. 8, 2021 in the Philippine Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Carl Vinson and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F-35Cs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Stingers” of VFA-113 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Black Eagles” of VAW-113 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of HSC-4 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Blue Hawks” of HSM-78 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Seaman Sergio Vielmas, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., stands Landing Signalman during vertical replenishment drills for an MH-60R Sea Hawk assigned to the “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Squadron (HSM) 78 aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), Nov. 20, 2021 in the Philippine Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 1

Sailors aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90) conduct line handling with Henry J. Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) during a replenishment-at-sea in South China Sea, Nov. 30, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 1 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Dewey (DDG-105), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS O’Kane (DDG-77), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chafee (DDG-90), homeported in Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Stockdale (DDG-106), homeported in San Diego.

In the Gulf of Oman

Amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) conducts a strait transit through the Strait of Hormuz with fast response cutter USCGC Robert Goldman (WPC 1142), left, dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Wally Schirra (T-AKE 8), middle, and coastal patrol ship USS Whirlwind (PC 11), Dec. 11. U.S. Navy Photo

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit just transited the Strait of Hormuz and is now in the Gulf of Oman. The ARG deployed Aug. 12.

The ARG is comprised of three ships: landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52). Together the 11th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and ships are designated as an ARG/MEU. In addition to the ships, the principal Navy elements of the ARG are a Naval Beach Group element, the Tactical Air Control Squadron element, a fleet surgical team and a helicopter sea combat squadron element.

The 11th MEU consists of four major components: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element and a logistics combat element. The 11th MEU is comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced), Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

In the United Kingdom

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns from her seven month global mission on Dec. 9, 2021. UK Royal Navy Photo

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and escorts of the United Kingdom Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21) returned to their home ports in HMNB Devonport and HMNB Portsmouth on Dec. 9, marking the end of the carrier’s seven-month maiden deployment.

CSG 21 sailed 49,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back. CSG 21 ships arriving home were aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, destroyers HMS Diamond (D34) and HMS Defender (D36), frigates HMS Richmond (F239) and HMS Kent (F78) and replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria (A387).

The remaining ships of the CSG 21 had returned home earlier. American destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) detached from the group in late October and arrived home in Mayport, Fla., on Nov. 24. Meanwhile, Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805) detached from the group on Dec. 2 and arrived home at Nieuwe Haven Naval Base, Den Helder on Dec. 5. U.K. replenishment ship RFA Tidespring (A136), which was replaced as the CSG’s tanker by RFA Tidesurge (A138) on Nov. 20, returned home to Portland Port, Devon on Dec. 2. The U.K rotated its Astute-class submarines for the deployment, with one submarine accompanying the group at various periods.

The U.K. air elements of CSG 21 flew home Dec. 8 and 9, with the Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron and 845 NAS returning to Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton, respectively, on Dec. 9. The Wildcat helicopters of 815 NAS returned to RNAS Yeovilton on Dec. 8, while “The Dambusters” of Royal Air Force 617 Squadron arrived home at RAF Marham on Dec. 9.

The “Wake Island Avengers” of U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 arrived home at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma on Dec. 8 after departing from CSG 21 last month. The squadron first landed aboard Queen Elizabeth in May 2021 for an integrated deployment with the U.K.’s 617 Squadron. A U.S. Marine Corps release stated that during the Royal Navy carrier’s initial operating deployment, VMFA-211 and the 617 squadron completed more than 1,278 sorties, flew more than 2200 hours, and conducted 44 combat missions in support of the counter-ISIS mission — Operation Inherent Resolve.

The ten F-35Bs of the squadron flew to Naval Station Rota on Nov. 24, with the remainder of the squadron disembarking from Queen Elizabeth on Dec. 2, when the carrier made a port call in Rota. On Dec. 5, the main body of personnel and equipment flew from Naval Station Rota to MCAS Yuma. The aircraft flew into MCAS Cherry Point, N.C., and subsequently flew to MCAS Yuma.

In the Eastern Pacific

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Airman Matthew Kjoller, left, and Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fuel) Airman Jarrett Tipton fake out a fuel hose on the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), Dec. 9. Makin Island is underway conducting routine operations in U.S. 3rd Fleet. U.S. Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of responsibility. USS Makin Island (LHD-8), USS San Diego (LPD-22) and USS Somerset (LPD-25) – along with the 15th MEU – returned from their last deployment in May 2021.

In the Western Atlantic

Sailors attach a fuel hose to a JP-5 fuel pump aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on Dec. 3, 2021. Truman is operating as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group in the Atlantic Ocean in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. U.S. Navy Photo

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group departed from Norfolk, Va., on Dec. 1 for a scheduled deployment. Along with the U.S. ships; Royal Norwegian Navy Frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) joined the strike group under the Cooperative Deployment Program, which, according to the Navy, emphasizes the strengthening of defense partnerships and capabilities between the U.S. and bilateral or multilateral partners.

Aircraft carrier
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 1

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the “Sunliners” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in the Atlantic Ocean on Dec. 2, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, is embarked aboard Harry S. Truman and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Red Rippers” of VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sunliners” of VFA-81 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Rooks” of VAQ-137 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Seahawks” of VAW-126 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – Detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Dragon Slayers” of HSC-11 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Proud Warriors of HSM-72 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser
USS San Jacinto (CG-56), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.

Destroyer Squadron 28

Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely (DDG 107) man the rails during a Sea-and-Anchor ceremony on Dec. 1, 2021. Gravely is operating in the Atlantic Ocean in support of naval operations to maintain maritime stability and security in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests. U.S. Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 28 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Cole (DDG-67), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Gravely (DDG-107), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • Royal Norwegian Navy Frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).

U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswains Mates secure an MV-22 Osprey assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotar Squadron 263, during flight operations aboard amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3), Dec. 6, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway in the Virginia Capes Operating Area. Also underway in the Virginia Capes are USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) and USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7).

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

U.K. Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth Wraps 7-Month Maiden Deployment

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and escorts of the Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21) returned to their home ports in HMNB Devonport and HMNB Portsmouth marking the end of its seven-month maiden deployment. CSG 21 sailed 49,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back. CSG 21 ships arriving home today were aircraft carrier Queen […]

HMS Queen Elizabeth returns from her seven-month global mission on Dec. 9, 2021. UK Royal Navy Photo

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and escorts of the Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21) returned to their home ports in HMNB Devonport and HMNB Portsmouth marking the end of its seven-month maiden deployment.

CSG 21 sailed 49,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back. CSG 21 ships arriving home today were aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, destroyers HMS Diamond (D34) and HMS Defender (D36), frigates HMS Richmond (F239) and HMS Kent (F78) and replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria (A387).

The remaining ships of the CSG 21 had returned home earlier. Destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) detached from the group in late October and arrived home in Mayport, Fla., on Nov. 24. Meanwhile, Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805) detached from the group on Dec. 2 and arrived home at Nieuwe Haven Naval Base, Den Helder on Dec. 5. U.K. replenishment ship RFA Tidespring (A136), which was replaced as the CSG’s tanker by RFA Tidesurge (A138) on Nov. 20, returned home to Portland Port, Devon on Dec. 2. The U.K rotated its Astute-class submarines for the deployment, with one submarine accompanying the group at various periods.

The U.K. air elements of CSG 21 flew home yesterday and today, with the Merlin helicopters of 820 Naval Air Squadron and 845 NAS returning to Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose and RNAS Yeovilton, respectively, yesterday. The Wildcat helicopters of 815 NAS returned to RNAS Yeovilton yesterday. The Royal Air Force 617 Squadron “The Dambusters” arrived home at RAF Marham today.

The “Wake Island Avengers” of U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 arrived home at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma yesterday after departing from CSG 21 last month. The squadron had been deployed aboard Queen Elizabeth together with 617 Squadron since the end of April 2021. A U.S. Marine Corps release stated that during the Royal Navy carrier’s initial operating deployment, VMFA-211 and the 617 squadron completed more than 1,278 sorties, flew more than 2200 hours, and conducted 44 combat missions in support of the counter-ISIS mission — Operation Inherent Resolve.

Dec. 9, 2021 message from Queen Elizabeth on the conclusion of the deployment.

“Deploying with CSG-21 was a premier opportunity for our Marines to train alongside our allies and for the Marine Corps to garner valuable lessons from operating on allied shipping in a combined environment across multiple theaters of operation,” Maj. Gen. Bradford Gering, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in the news release. “VMFA-211 continues to lead the charge in F-35 training initiatives that directly enhance future warfighting capabilities of Marine aviation.”

VFMA-211 was the first F-35B squadron to deploy as a 10-jet squadron, as outlined in the Marine Corps Commandant’s Planning Guidance, which lays out the strategic vision for the Marines.

“The deployment with CSG-21 was extremely successful for VMFA-211 in many ways, from conducting combat operations from a foreign allied vessel to demonstrating interoperability with our U.K. partners, along with multiple other strike groups, in the face of near-peer adversaries,” Lt. Col. Andrew D’Ambrogi, the commanding officer of VMFA-211, said in the release. “The hard work and fortitude the Marines demonstrated over the past eight months have been nothing less than impressive having just executed the first 10-plane F-35B operational shipboard deployment.”

The ten F-35Bs of the squadron flew to Naval Station Rota on Nov. 24, with the remainder of the squadron disembarking from Queen Elizabeth on Dec. 2, when the carrier made a port call in Rota. On Dec. 5, the main body of personnel and equipment flew from Naval Station Rota to MCAS Yuma. The aircraft flew into MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. and subsequently flew to MCAS Yuma.

Helicopters from 820 and 1700 Naval Air Squadron return home from deployment on Dec. 7, 2021. UK Royal Navy Photo.

A U.K Ministry of Defence release on the ending of the CSG 21 deployment stated that the strike group engaged with 44 countries and its air wing flew 4,723 flight hours, with 1,290 of those at night. The air wing also exercised with 64 different aircraft types from 17 nations during the deployment, the release said.

In other developments, the U.K Ministry of Defence announced on Dec. 8 that the RAF F-35B that crashed while operating off Queen Elizabeth on Nov. 17 has been recovered, though it did not provide details on the recovery efforts, other than thanking Italy and the United States for support in the recovery operation.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Dec. 6, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 6, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Dec. 6, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

295

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
52 32 84

In Yokosuka, Japan

A relic from the USS Arizona (BB-39) is displayed aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) in remembrance and commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The relic originates from a section of the superstructure of Arizona that was removed from the ship when the Arizona Memorial was constructed. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In Sasebo, Japan

Sailors assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) sort mail on the pier on Nov. 30, 2021. US Navy Photo

The ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) are in port in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Philippine Sea

Sailors perform a foreign object debris (FOD) walkdown after a mass casualty drill on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Dec. 4, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Philippine Sea. Naval forces from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the U.S. concluded a nine-day multilateral, multinational annual exercise in the Philippine Sea on Nov. 30.

The five participating international navies included the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy, the German Navy, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and the U.S Navy.

“The U.S. participated with aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG106), replenishment ships USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) and USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) and an unnamed Los Angeles class submarine,” USNI News reported last week.

Aircraft carrier
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 2

A CMV-22B Osprey, assigned to the ‘Titans’ of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30, lands on the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) on Dec. 1, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Carl Vinson and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F-35Cs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Stingers” of VFA-113 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Black Eagles” of VAW-113 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of HSC-4 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Blue Hawks” of HSM-78 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Lt. j.g. Eli Voight, a native of Gillette, Wyo., stands watch as officer of the deck aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), Dec. 1, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 1

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) conducts flight operations with an MH-60R Helicopter assigned to the ‘Warlords’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM-51) on Nov. 11, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 1 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Dewey (DDG-105), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS O’Kane (DDG-77), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chafee (DDG-90), homeported in Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Stockdale (DDG-106), homeported in San Diego.

In the Persian Gulf

AV-8B Harrier, attached to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), prepares to land on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) during flight operations on Dec. 4, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is underway in the Persian Gulf. The ARG deployed Aug. 12.

The ARG is comprised of three ships: landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52). Together the 11th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and ships are designated as an ARG/MEU. In addition to the ships, the principal Navy elements of the ARG are a Naval Beach Group element, the Tactical Air Control Squadron element, a fleet surgical team and a helicopter sea combat squadron element.

The 11th MEU consists of four major components: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element and a logistics combat element. The 11th MEU is comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced), Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

In the Atlantic

The United Kingdom Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) departed Rota, Spain today after pulling into port on Dec. 2.

Carrier Strike Group 21 is now on the final leg of its seven-month deployment, which has seen the group travel over 40,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back. Ships and aircraft from the group have operated and exercised with over 40 countries during the deployment. The group is currently dispersed and the original composition has changed. U.K. replenishment ship RFA Tidespring (A136) was replaced by RFA Tidesurge (A138) earlier this month.

Queen Elizabeth is currently with destroyer HMS Diamond (D34), replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria (A387) and, as was when CSG 21 operated in the Mediterranean in June, Italian destroyer ITS Andrea Doria (D553).

The “Wake Island Avengers” of U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 completed their embarkation on Queen Elizabeth, with the squadron departing Nov. 24 for Naval Station Rota, Spain, for the first leg of the return flight home. The U.S. squadron had been integrated with the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron “The Dambusters.”

A U.K. F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter operating from Queen Elizabeth crashed in the eastern Mediterranean on Nov. 17. The U.S. Navy is helping the U.K. recover the F-35B. A U.K. government spokesperson confirmed to USNI News that the U.S. Navy was dispatching a ship and crew to help with the deep salvage mission.

The CSG has been accompanied by a U.K. Royal Navy nuclear attack boat.

In the Eastern Pacific

An AH-1Z Viper helicopter, assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 469, takes off from amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD-8) on Dec. 4, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway in the Virginia Capes Operating Areas. USS Makin Island (LHD-8), USS San Diego (LPD-22) and USS Somerset (LPD-25) – along with the 15th MEU – returned from their last deployment in May 2021.

In the Western Atlantic

The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group departed from Norfolk, Va., on Wednesday for a scheduled deployment. Along with the U.S. ships; Royal Norwegian Navy Frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310) joined the strike group under the Cooperative Deployment Program, which, according to the Navy, emphasizes the strengthening of defense partnerships and capabilities between the U.S. and bilateral or multilateral partners.

Aircraft carrier
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Carrier Air Wing 1

An E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, attached to the ‘Seahawks’ of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 126, prepares to land on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) on Dec. 2, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, is embarked aboard Harry S. Truman and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Red Rippers of VFA-11 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F/A-18Fs from Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.
  • The “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Blue Blasters of VFA-34 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Sunliners” of VFA-81 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Oceana.
  • The “Rooks” of VAQ-137 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Seahawks” of VAW-126 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk, Va.
  • The “Rawhides” of VRC-40 – detachment – C-2A – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Dragon Slayers” of HSC-11 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station Norfolk.
  • The “Proud Warriors of HSM-72 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruiser
USS San Jacinto (CG-56), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk, Va.

Destroyer Squadron 28

USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109) departs Naval Station Mayport, Fla., on Dec. 1, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 28 is based in Norfolk and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Cole (DDG-67), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Bainbridge (DDG- 96), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Gravely (DDG-107), homeported at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • USS Jason Dunham (DDG-109), homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
  • Royal Norwegian Navy Frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen (F310).

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Eliot Koivula, a rifleman with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), prepares to disembark amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD-3), to execute a raid, on Dec. 5, 2021. US Marine Corps Photo

The Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) is underway in Virginia Capes operating areas.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: Nov. 29, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 29, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Total U.S. Navy Battle […]

USNI News Graphic

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Nov. 29, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.

Total U.S. Navy Battle Force:

295

Ships Underway

Deployed Ships Underway Non-deployed Ships Underway Total Ships Underway
44 20 64

In Yokosuka, Japan

Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70, shows Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy Rear Adm. An Sang-min, ROK Fleet Maritime Operations Center Director, staff working spaces aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76). CTF 70 is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific on Nov. 29, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is in port in Yokosuka, Japan.

In Sasebo, Japan

U.S. service members crane a CV-22 Osprey aircraft for transfer onto Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan’s flight line, Nov. 20, 2021. The aircraft was aboard the USS America (LHA-6) while the ship was docked at MCAS Iwakuni’s deep-water harbor on Nov. 20, 2021. US Marine Corps Photo

The ships of the America Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) are in port in Sasebo, Japan.

In the Philippine Sea

Rear Adm. Dan Martin, right, commander, Carrier Strike Group One, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) officers observe flight operations aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) during Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 2021 on Nov. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is underway in the Philippine Sea.

Aircraft carrier
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Carrier Air Wing 2

An F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the ‘Argonauts’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, prepares to launch off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX) 2021 on Nov. 28, 2021. US Navy Photo

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif., is embarked aboard Carl Vinson and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Argonauts” of VFA-147 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) flying F-35Cs from Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.
  • The “Bounty Hunters” of VFA-2 – F/A-18F – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Stingers” of VFA-113 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Golden Dragons” of VFA-192 – F/A-18E – from Naval Air Station Lemoore.
  • The “Gauntlets” of VAQ-136 – EA-18G – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
  • The “Black Eagles” of VAW-113 – E-2D – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from Naval Air Station Point Mugu, Calif.
  • The “Titans” of VRM-30 – CMV-22B – Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) – from Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.
  • The “Black Knights” of HSC-4 – MH-60S – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Station North Island.
  • The “Blue Hawks” of HSM-78 – MH-60R – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Station North Island.

Cruiser

Fire Control (Aegis) Master Chief Petty Officer Jason Villanueva, left, a native of Fayetteville, N.C., and Culinary Specialist Seaman Kaleb Ferris, a native of Canby, Ore., carve Thanksgiving turkey aboard Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) on Nov. 25, 2021. US Navy Photo

USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), homeported in San Diego, Calif.

Destroyer Squadron 1

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106) conducts a fueling-at-sea with Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Nov. 20, 2021. US Navy Photo

Destroyer Squadron 1 is based in San Diego and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Dewey (DDG-105), homeported in San Diego, Calif.
  • USS O’Kane (DDG-77), homeported in San Diego.
  • USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • USS Chafee (DDG-90), homeported in Pearl Harbor.
  • USS Stockdale (DDG-106), homeported in San Diego.

In Manama, Bahrain

Sailors handle line aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) during sea-and-anchor, Nov. 20, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit is in port in Manama, Bahrain. The ARG deployed Aug. 12.

The ARG is comprised of three ships: landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52). Together the 11th MEU, Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1 and ships are designated as an ARG/MEU. In addition to the ships, the principal Navy elements of the ARG are a Naval Beach Group element, the Tactical Air Control Squadron element, a fleet surgical team and a helicopter sea combat squadron element.

The 11th MEU consists of four major components: a command element, a ground combat element, an aviation combat element, and a logistics combat element. The 11th MEU is comprised of Battalion Landing Team 1/1, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced), Marine Attack Squadron 214 and Combat Logistics Battalion 11.

In the Mediterranean Sea

United Kingdom Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) pulled into Palma de Mallorca on Friday. Last week Queen Elizabeth and Italian carrier ITS Cavour (CVH550) cross-decked their embarked F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters southeast of Sicily in the Mediterranean, making Italy the second nation after the U.S. to operate the aircraft off the U.K. warship, reported USNI News.

Carrier Strike Group 21 is now on the final leg of its seven-month deployment, which has seen the group travel over 40,000 nautical miles to the Indo-Pacific and back. Ships and aircraft from the group have operated and exercised with over 40 countries during the deployment. The group is currently dispersed and the original composition has changed. U.K. replenishment ship RFA Tidespring (A136) was replaced by RFA Tidesurge (A138) earlier this month.

USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) detached from the group in late October and arrived home Nov. 24 at Naval Station Mayport, Fla.

Queen Elizabeth is currently with destroyer HMS Diamond (D34), Tidesurge, replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria (A387) and, as was when CSG 21 operated in the Mediterranean in June, Italian destroyer ITS Andrea Doria (D553).

Memorial to 820 Naval Air Squadron’s Role in the 1940 World War II Battle of Cape Sparivento was held aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth on Nov. 24, 2021. UK Royal Navy Photo

The “Wake Island Avengers” of U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 completed their embarkation on Queen Elizabeth, with the squadron departing Nov. 24 for Naval Station Rota, Spain, for the first leg of the return flight home. The U.S. squadron had been integrated with the Royal Air Force 617 Squadron “The Dambusters.”

A U.K. F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter operating from Queen Elizabeth crashed in the eastern Mediterranean on Nov. 17. The U.S. Navy is helping the U.K. recover the F-35B. A U.K. government spokesperson confirmed to USNI News that the U.S. Navy is dispatching a ship and crew to help with the deep salvage mission.

The CSG has been accompanied by a U.K. Royal Navy nuclear attack boat.

In the Eastern Pacific

Aviation Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Brandon Montoya, from Buda, Texas, performs maintenance in the hangar bay aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) on Nov. 26, 2021. US Navy Photo

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is underway in the Southern California Operating Areas.

In addition to these major formations, not shown are others serving in submarines, individual surface ships, aircraft squadrons, SEALs, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces, Seabees, Coast Guard cutters, EOD Mobile Units, and more serving throughout the globe.

U.S. Navy Sending Salvage Ship, Crew To Help Recover Crashed British F-35B

The U.S. Navy is helping the United Kingdom recover its F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter that crashed in the Mediterranean last week. A U.K. government spokesperson confirmed to USNI News that the U.S. Navy is dispatching a ship and crew to help with the deep salvage mission. Naval Sea Systems Command did not immediately […]

An F35B Lightning II pilots prepared to take off from HMS Queen Elizabeth (R-08) on Aug. 14, 2021. UK Royal Navy Photo

The U.S. Navy is helping the United Kingdom recover its F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter that crashed in the Mediterranean last week.

A U.K. government spokesperson confirmed to USNI News that the U.S. Navy is dispatching a ship and crew to help with the deep salvage mission.

Naval Sea Systems Command did not immediately respond to an inquiry from USNI News about the ship and crew aiding the mission.

Italy is also assisting with the mission and the aircraft has not yet been recovered, USNI News understands.

The British F-35B had been operating from U.K. Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) when the pilot ejected and the aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean last week.

“A British F-35 pilot from HMS Queen Elizabeth ejected during routine flying operations in the Mediterranean this morning,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in a statement at the time.
“The pilot has been safely returned to the ship and an investigation has begun, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Queen Elizabeth is wrapping up its maiden deployment, which featured a blended air wing with a U.S. Marine Corps squadron of F-35Bs and a Royal Air Force squadron of F-35Bs.

The Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron “The Dambusters” is billed as an RAF squadron, but includes both RAF and Royal Navy personnel. The MoD last week did not specify the branch of the pilot flying the F-35B that crashed.

The U.S. Marine Corps squadron – the “Wake Island Avengers” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 – left Queen Elizabeth on Wednesday for Rota, Spain, to start heading back to the U.S.

AUKUS Agreement Shows Recognition of China’s Military Power, Expert Says

Australia has become “something of a test case” in China’s push to dominate the Indo-Pacific economically and militarily, the head of Australia’s National Security College said Monday. Rory Medcalf, speaking at a Center for New American Security Forum, said “what we’ve seen in Australia the last five or six years [became] a wake-up call” of […]

A naval soldier of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) views through a pair of binoculars onboard China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it visits a military harbour on the South China Sea. Xinhua Photo

Australia has become “something of a test case” in China’s push to dominate the Indo-Pacific economically and militarily, the head of Australia’s National Security College said Monday.

Rory Medcalf, speaking at a Center for New American Security Forum, said “what we’ve seen in Australia the last five or six years [became] a wake-up call” of Beijing trying to impose “a veto over the sovereignty of nations.”

He termed the technology sharing agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, known as AUKUS, and building Canberra’s first nuclear-powered submarines, “as a recognition of the challenge from China.” He said this step by the Biden administration goes beyond Washington’s treaty with Canberra or its existing sharing of military intelligence as a positive recognition “of the trajectory of Chinese military power.”

Later, Medcalf said “the risks to this region [from China] are not going to be over in five or six years.”

Medcalf said the agreement also recognizes the economic dimension of the competition with Beijing, as China pushes its own trading arrangement for the region and Belt and Road initiative into Africa and Europe.

“We want to see more” from AUKUS than nuclear-powered submarines, Medcalf said. “The early signs are good” on sharing advanced technologies like artificial intelligence. Medcalf made these remarks as the nations formally signed the agreement to build the nuclear-powered submarines. He added that he did not expect any change in Australia’s commitment to the agreement, its participation in the informal Quad security arrangement or support of Taiwan “short of war” following Australia’s federal elections this spring, no matter which party wins.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison leads the Liberal/National Party coalition, which is being challenged by the Australian Labor Party.

“The hard work now lies with us and the Brits” into turning the agreement into reality, Medcalf said.

While Canberra is weathering the storm of Beijing’s high tariffs on Australian products from wine to coal and trade embargoes, Medcalf added that the situation would be “much more unpleasant for smaller nations closer to China.” Beijing has also tried to influence Australian elections through bribery and by targeting the large Chinese diaspora through extensive disinformation campaigns.

The latest Chinese moves against Australia came after Canberra kept insisting on transparency from Beijing about the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking back historically, Medcalf, the author of Indo-Pacific Empire: China, America and the Contest for the World’s Pivotal Region, said “China seems to have trapped itself in this imperialism” mode by becoming more authoritarian domestically and with its aggressive behavior abroad.

He added that President Xi Jinping’s leadership could be leading China to “imperial overreach,” creating friction points far from its immediate national interests. Medcalf questioned whether the Chinese Communist Party’s model under Xi would work in other nations, since it lacks a succession plan and China has a future where it also will be coping with an aging demographic demanding more services.

Medcalf cited Beijing’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in refusing to be transparent about its origins as “a depressing example” of how China works internationally. “The pandemic has been a really troubling” time in trying to build cooperation with China on an issue of importance globally with little positive reaction in Beijing to work together.

Lisa Curtis, the director of CNAS’s Indo-Pacific security program, said during the panel discussion following Medcalf’s presentation that China “is not helping their case in pursuing this aggressive” behavior in the East China and South China seas and Taiwan Strait, as pandemic recovery is underway.

When asked what role Europe can play in the Indo-Pacific, Medcalf said “it’s not going to be ships in the water,” referring to the U.K. Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth Carrier Strike Group’s recent deployment and growing French and German naval presence in the region. He argued Europe must pay attention to governance, infrastructure, connectivity and development and working with Japan, India and the the U.S. in these areas.

He also saw the Quad – the informal security agreement between the U.S., Australia, India and Japan – that could possibly see other Indo-Pacific nations joining the arrangement as forging technology standards, agreeing on 5G communications and developing alternative supply chains.

Michael Green, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies for Asia and Japan, said these navies’ actions demonstrate “will power” and that Europeans “are not afraid to show the flag.”

He added this also is a signal to China that Beijing can’t count on Europe remaining aloof from a crisis in the Indo-Pacific.

As the session was nearing an end, Medcalf described the dispute with France over the cancellation of Australia’s contract with Paris to building diesel submarines as “a family feud. We all need to grow out of it as fast as possible.”

Australia needs “to find other common grounds with the French and other Europeans,” he said.