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Royal Navy to send a carrier group in the South China Sea in 2021.

| 2019

The Royal Navy may have plans to task its aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, leading a strike-force that will include the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, some Type 45 destroyers and the next generation of Type 26 frigate fleet, to enforce maritime law in the South China Sea.

Royal Navy to send a carrier group in the South China Sea in 2021 HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture source : Royal Navy)

During this operation in 2021, the strike-force lead by the HMS Queen Elizabeth would go through the Mediterranean Sea, the Middle-East and the Pacific Ocean. Whitehall defense boss Gavin Williamson also considers using the carrier group to enforce maritime law in the South China Sea during this operation.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Labour peer Lord Don Touhig said "My Lords, is this sabre-rattling in the Pacific intended to give our friends in the region confidence, or to make the Chinese tremble? Then he added "When the Americans deploy a carrier they provide an escort of a cruiser, four destroyers, a carrier wing, a submarine and 7,500 sailors. Can we do that?"

The Government insists Queen Elizabeth's deployment is not an opportunity to 'antagonise' the Chinese. Earl Howe, defence minister and deputy leader of the House Lords, said "My right honourable friend the defence secretary (Gavin Williamson) announced that the first operational mission of the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ would include the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Pacific region, thereby enabling the Royal Navy to maximise the opportunities we have to exercise and interact with our key regional allies and partners, and to make a statement about upholding the international rules-based system, including freedom of navigation." Mr Howe added that 'Dutch allies' would also be drawn upon to support QE out in the Pacific - whilst the finer details of her deployment still remain in 'the planning stage'.

Defense tensions continue to dominate the headlines in 2019, after some clashes arose between the Royal Navy and the Russian one, and between the Royal Navy and the Spanish one (around Gibraltar claimed waters).

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