UK — Carrier and Amphibious Task Groups meet for multinational exercise

The UK’s Amphibi­ous Task Group has joined up with the Car­ri­er Task Group in the North Atlantic for a US-led multi­na­tion­al Com­pos­ite Train­ing Unit Exer­cise.

HMS Liverpool (foreground) and HMS Ark Roya
HMS Liv­er­pool (fore­ground) and HMS Ark Roy­al tak­ing part in a US-led multi­na­tion­al Com­pos­ite Train­ing Unit Exer­cise
Source: LA(Phot) Gregg Macready, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

HMS Ark Roy­al and her Task Group, which con­sists of HMS Liv­er­pool, HMS Suther­land, USS Bar­ry and RFA Fort George, have been joined by units from the Amphibi­ous Task Group — HMS Ocean, HMS Albion with 3 Com­man­do Brigade Roy­al Marines embarked, and RFA Largs Bay — to take part in USS Kearsarge’s Com­pos­ite Train­ing Unit Exer­cise (C2X) with 1 (Fight­er) Squadron of Joint Force Har­ri­er.

The com­ing togeth­er of three of the Roy­al Navy’s five cap­i­tal ships is strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant as it enables the Ser­vice to max­imise its train­ing in order to suc­ceed in small scale focused inter­ven­tions such as bomb­ing raids and anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare oper­a­tions which, in turn, enable the final objec­tive of insert­ing troops on the ground in the form of Roy­al Marines from 3 Com­man­do Brigade, all the while pro­tect­ing itself from air attack by util­is­ing HMS Liverpool’s superb air defence capa­bil­i­ties.

The Roy­al Navy’s fleet flag­ship HMS Ark Roy­al con­tin­ues as the Task Group com­mand and con­trol car­ri­er strike plat­form for the UK-led multi­na­tion­al Auri­ga deploy­ment, com­mand­ed by Com­modore Simon Ancona.

USS Barry (foreground) with RFA Largs Bay and HMS Ark Royal during the US-led multinational Composite Training Unit Exercise
USS Bar­ry (fore­ground) with RFA Largs Bay and HMS Ark Roy­al dur­ing the US-led multi­na­tion­al Com­pos­ite Train­ing Unit Exer­cise
Source: LA(Phot) Gregg Macready, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Com­man­der Simon Ward, Chief of Staff for the Car­ri­er Strike Group, said:

“…this is a fan­tas­tic oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op and hone rel­e­vant, avail­able mar­itime skills and capa­bil­i­ties that encap­su­lates air, sea and land oper­a­tions.”

The exer­cise has been devel­oped for the multi­na­tion­al task groups by the Unit­ed States Navy’s Car­ri­er Strike Force Train­ing (Atlantic) and has tak­en a year of joint plan­ning with the UK’s Car­ri­er Strike Group.

Although this is the first exer­cise of this type and size for many years, Ark Roy­al has ben­e­fit­ed great­ly from using the Unit­ed States Navy’s fixed wing bomb­ing ranges, and as such this area of the Car­oli­nas is know as the ‘Car­ri­er Strike gym­na­si­um’.

The sce­nario area has been named the ‘Trea­sure Coast’ as the names of the six myth­i­cal sov­er­eign states are named after pre­cious or semi-pre­cious gems.

How­ev­er, most impor­tant­ly this is a rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­duct strike, expe­di­tionary and naval war­fare mis­sions with­in a joint and coali­tion envi­ron­ment.

HMS Ocean
HMS Ocean dur­ing the US-led multi­na­tion­al Com­pos­ite Train­ing Unit Exer­cise
Source: LA(Phot) Gregg Macready, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Com­modore Simon Ancona, Com­man­der of the Car­ri­er Strike Group, said:

“This is the Roy­al Navy com­ing togeth­er to train to deliv­er at a small scale, with very many mov­ing parts, and it has been a while since we have exe­cut­ed any­thing like this.

“How­ev­er, we have the assets and we are in ide­al exer­cise areas to be able to regen­er­ate the know-how of how to con­duct oper­a­tions like these.”

It will cer­tain­ly be a busy few weeks for both the Car­ri­er Strike Group and the Amphibi­ous Task Group as they exer­cise against sym­met­ri­cal and asym­met­ri­cal threats as well as con­tin­u­ing to con­duct fixed wing Har­ri­er fly­ing oper­a­tions whilst insert­ing the Roy­al Marines of 3 Com­man­do Brigade ashore.

Since depart­ing Portsmouth in April, HMS Ark Roy­al has con­duct­ed a num­ber of high pro­file exer­cis­es as the nation’s strike car­ri­er, includ­ing Joint War­rior with 800 Squadron, Naval Strike Wing; Capel­la Strike with the Unit­ed States Marine Corps’ Har­ri­er AV8Bs; anti-sub­ma­rine war­fare exer­cis­es util­is­ing HMS Sutherland’s 2087 sonar and Mer­lin heli­copter; and Exer­cise Hal­cy­on Ren­dezvous with the Roy­al Cana­di­an Navy.

And, after these exer­cis­es, she went on to par­tic­i­pate in the Cana­di­an Navy’s Cen­te­nary Inter­na­tion­al Fleet Review held in Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia, and over­seen by Her Majesty The Queen.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK