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UK's First Carrier in a Generation Conducts Her First Combat Mission

queen elizabeth
Image courtesy Royal Navy

Published Jun 22, 2021 1:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

The UK's first new carrier in a generation, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has carried out her first combat operations with a series of strikes against Islamic State (Daesh). 

“HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first missions against Daesh will be remembered as a significant moment in the 50-year lifespan of this ship," said Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group. "It also marks a new phase of our current deployment. To date we have delivered diplomatic influence on behalf of the UK through a series of exercises and engagements with our partners - now we are ready to deliver the hard punch of maritime-based air power against a shared enemy."

Carrier Strike Group 21 is the largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation. The strike group's mission to the Mediterranean (and points east) marks its first operational deployment. It is a joint effort involving assets from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Navy, with embarked American F-35B fighters aboard Queen Elizabeth and a U.S. destroyer in the team of escorts. This week's carrier strikes mark the first combat missions flown by U.S. aircraft from the deck of an allied carrier since American forces launched from HMS Victorious in World War II. 

“The Carrier Strike Group is a physical embodiment of Global Britain and a show of international military strength that will deter anyone who seeks to undermine global security," said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in a statement.

The last time the Royal Navy engaged in maritime strike operations was in 2011, when UK forces joined NATO to eliminate the Libyan air force and deter attacks by dictator Muammar Gaddafi against a popular uprising. The effort helped prevent violent government suppresion of the anti-Gaddafi movement; protesters and militias ultimately overthrew the regime, setting the stage for a 10-year civil war.