The destroyers HMS Defender and HMS Diamond left the naval base in Hampshire on Saturday morning ahead of the first deployment of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) next month.
Exercise Strike Warrior 21 will run from May 8 to May 20 in the Firth of Forth, with 10 nations taking part and with 31 warships, three submarines, 150 aircraft and around 13,400 military personnel involved.
HMS Defender’s ship’s company lined the deck to wave to family and friends on the quayside as the vessel left the port.
The Strike Warrior programme will include 1,500 ground troops at military ranges across the country and maritime exercise areas off the west and north coasts.
A £3 billion warship
Australia will join Nato nations the UK, the US, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland in taking part with 34 naval units.
The exercises will mirror a broad range of crisis and conflict situations.
HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s fleet flagship at the centre of the CSG, will deploy shortly after the completion of Strike Warrior.
The £3 billion warship, with eight RAF and 10 US Marine Corps F35B stealth fighter jets on board, will depart for Asia accompanied by six Royal Navy ships, a submarine, 14 naval helicopters and a company of Royal Marines.
‘The Premier League’
The CSG, which will carry out visits to India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, will include the US destroyer USS The Sullivans and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen.
Commodore Stephen Moorhouse told the PA news agency: “This is an amazing capability and pulling that all together with our international partners is a real statement that the Royal Navy is very much in the Premier League.”
Colonel Simon Doran, the senior US representative in the CSG, said the deployment had been in planning for more than 10 years.
“It sends a message to potential adversaries but also to our allies to reinforce should they ever be needed, we will be there, we generally always fight together so to deploy together really helps strengthen our relationship,” he said.