Senior members of USN & USMC visit HMS Queen Elizabeth
Senior members of the US Navy and US Marine Corps visited HMS Queen Elizabeth in build at Rosyth ahead of key talks with the Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois last Thursday.
After meeting representatives of Navy Command Carrier Strike team, the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, and the ship’s company, they were given a brief on the UK’s future carrier capability and a tour of the ship.
The team was led by Vice Admiral Nora Tyson – the first woman to command a US Navy aircraft carrier task group, Vice Admiral David Buss of the US Naval Air Forces, and Lieutenant General Robert Schmidle – the US Marine Corps Deputy Commandant for Aviation.
The US and the UK have been working closely together on aircraft carrier operations over the last few years, and Royal Navy sailors are already training on US ships around the world – operating and sustaining both the aircraft carrier forces and their ability to project power into the air from a maritime platform.
In January last year the US and UK Defence Ministers signed an agreement to enhance the cooperation between the two countries in terms of carrier strike interoperability called the US-UK Statement of Intent. The aim is for US aircraft to be able to operate from UK aircraft carriers and vice versa.
Senior Naval Officer on board HMS Queen Elizabeth Captain Simon Petitt said: “Our relationship with the USN and USMC is alive and very well. They are providing significant support to the UK as we deliver Carrier Strike and both of us are learning how to embark a new type of aircraft on our flight decks.
"However, our new carriers (the Queen Elizabeth Class) are very different to those the USN operate and this visit was extremely useful. We showed them our ship and they were impressed with many of the new and exciting features built into the design of HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship.”
The Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers will be the biggest and most powerful surface warships ever constructed for the Royal Navy and will represent a step change in capability – delivering strategic effect and influence around the world.
The first – HMS Queen Elizabeth - is due to arrive in Portsmouth by 2017 and has been pieced together at Rosyth where her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales is also under construction. Her hull is now complete, the radar has been lifted into place and only the aircraft lifts remain outstanding to finish the outer construction.
Both carriers will operate the F35B Lightning II jet with teams of Royal Navy and RAF engineers now working at US Naval Air Station Patuxent River under the SOI to learn how to maintain the £120m stealthy strike fighter.
Following the visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth the US Navy and US Marine team met with Mark Francois on Thursday to discuss further the opportunities for UK-US carrier strike integration.
Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois said:
“HMS Queen Elizabeth will be a spectacular ship and, once handed over to the MOD in 2016, a magnificent asset for the UK’s Armed Forces. This ship will be at the heart of the Royal Navy for decades to come and will play a key role in protecting the UK’s interests around the world.
“I am very pleased that our friends from the US Navy and US Marine Corps have had the opportunity to see HMS Queen Elizabeth under construction, and I thanked them for their strong co-operation with our carrier programme and I’m sure they were as impressed as I was by the capability that this will bring and the new opportunities for joint working between our two countries that it will enable.