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UK: Towards deployment of Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in Red Sea?.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by Forces News on January 2, 2024, Tom Sharpe, a former Royal Navy commander, recommended that UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps should deploy the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Red Sea.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. (Picture source: UK MoD)

Sharpe emphasized that such a move should not be seen as an escalation but as a strategic positioning of resources. He believes that deploying the carrier could be a significant factor in the ongoing crisis, suggesting it could reach the area within a couple of weeks and potentially assist in stabilizing the situation.

He stressed the need for any deployment to be meaningful and effective, differentiating between 'bad operations' and 'good operations.' In his view, a good operation would involve the carrier assisting the Eisenhower Group already in the region, while bad operations would be aimless, without a clear purpose or effective use. The UK government, which recently condemned attacks from Houthi rebels, has HMS Diamond deployed in the region.

HMS Queen Elizabeth

HMS Queen Elizabeth's operational history began in February 2018, when the ship embarked on operational sea training, focusing on helicopter certification and amphibious assault trials.

This early phase included a significant overseas port visit to Gibraltar and initial training in heavy weather conditions in the North Atlantic. The focus on helicopter operations included various types like Merlin Mk2 and Mk3, and Chinook helicopters.

Later in 2018, the ship embarked on the Westlant 18 Deployment, a milestone marking its first significant deployment across the Atlantic. This phase was pivotal for the carrier as it began flying trials with the F-35B aircraft. The deployment covered a range of operations, including visits to New York City and Naval Station Norfolk, emphasizing the ship's global reach and capabilities. It was during this time that the ship showcased new operational techniques like the shipborne rolling vertical landing.

Post-Westlant 18, HMS Queen Elizabeth underwent maintenance enhancements, including the installation of self-defense armaments like Phalanx CIWS mounts. This period also set the stage for further fixed-wing aircraft trials with British F-35s over UK waters, moving towards a more advanced operational capability.

The year 2019 saw HMS Queen Elizabeth embarking on its second WESTLANT cruise, further integrating F-35B flight testing and marking the full operational integration of 617 Squadron into the ship's air group. This deployment was a significant step in demonstrating the operational capability of the UK Carrier Strike Group.

In 2021, HMS Queen Elizabeth achieved a new operational milestone as it assumed the role of Fleet Flagship of the Royal Navy. This period was marked by various joint exercises with NATO partners and allies, reflecting the ship's strategic importance in global security.

The same year, HMS Queen Elizabeth commenced its first combat operations by launching F-35B aircraft to conduct strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. This operation underscored the carrier's role as a potent force in global military operations.

The operational trajectory of HMS Queen Elizabeth continued in 2023 with "Operation FIREDRAKE." This operation saw the carrier embarking on a deployment with a complement of F-35B fighters, Merlin, and Wildcat helicopters, escorted by other significant Royal Navy vessels.

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