Japanese Destroyer and American Carriers Join Britain’s New Carrier Strike Group For Yemen Exercises

Following the passage of a British carrier strike group through the Suez Canal, which marked a much publicised return for the Royal Navy to defence commitments beyond Europe, the Atlantic  and Africa to deploy ‘east of Suez,’ the ships were joined by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force Asagiri Class destroyer JS Setogiri for exercises. Operating in the strategically located Gulf of Aden near Yemen and Somalia, the British carrier group led by the flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth was actually largely comprised of non-British assets including includes ships from the Dutch Navy and the United States Navy as well as fighters from the U.S. Marine Corps, with the inclusion of a Japanese destroyer effectively creating a joint NATO-Japanese strike force. Alongside the JS Setogiri, other destroyers include two of Britain’s six Type 45 Class destroyers and an American Arleigh Burke Class AEGIS destroyer. 

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, stated regarding planned deployment for the carrier group: 

“The Carrier Strike Group’s period working with our NATO partners in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas offers unmistakable proof that the United Kingdom’s most important overseas defence commitment remains the security of the Euro-Atlantic region. While HMS Queen Elizabeth launched counter-Daesh [Islamic State] missions over Iraq and Syria from the Eastern Mediterranean, HMS Defender and HNLMS Evertsen were conducting concurrent operations 1600 miles away in the Black Sea – true strategic reach. Meanwhile, our programme of defence engagement involved a huge amount of work in support of British Embassies and High Commissions, but from Alicante to Alexandria and Bar to Batumi, the message was the same: Britain’s friends and allies are delighted to see the Royal Navy back in town. Now we head east, towards the rising economies of the Indo-Pacific. From the Strait of Gibraltar to the Strait of Malacca, CSG21 offers unprecedented influence and engagement in support of Global Britain.”

The British-led carrier group was subsequently joined by two American carriers - the Nimitz Class supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan, as well as the Wasp class amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima. Other American combat and supporting ships which joined included a second Arleigh Burke Class destroyer and a Ticonderoga Class cruiser. These additions on July 12th more than doubled the amount of firepower the strike group fielded. Exercises in the Gulf of Aden provided an opportunity for allied states to train together and increase interoperability, with the British carrier group expected to carry out further exercises in Northeast Asia which is its final destination.  

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