Warships from the United States, UK, and other allied nations are slated to begin a joint training operation in the North Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday. The ten-day exercise, titled Saxon Warrior 2017, is intended to increase allied interoperability and collective defense capabilities in the region that has seen a sharp increase in Russian naval activities in recent years.
The United States has sent the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, as well as other ships from the 6th fleet, to participate in the exercises, which will include a number of scenarios set to span the full spectrum of carrier strike group operations, including strategic strike, air defense operations, combat air support and enforcement of no-fly zones.
The U.S. and U.K. share a great military history, built on a shared culture of protecting freedom and defense globally,” said Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, EUCOM’s commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. “We stand shoulder to shoulder here today to help them refine and enhance their carrier strike group capabilities.”
The Royal Navy also sent its own carrier strike group to participate in the exercises, led by its newest and most advanced warship to date, the HMS Queen Elizabeth. With a 65,000 ton displacement and overall length of 920 feet, the Queen Elizabeth is quite a bit smaller than America’s massive Nimitz class carrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, but remains one of the largest and most powerful naval vessels on the seas today. Although the UK has yet to receive their first operational batch of F-35Bs, an agreement made in 2016 will see an American squadron of the advanced fighters on its deck until 2023.
Saxon Warrior allows both U.S. and U.K. naval forces a chance to hone our interoperability skills. Particularly important is the alignment of U.S. carrier strike groups and the U.K. carrier strike group,” said Navy Rear Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Carrier Strike Group 2 commander. “This unique opportunity affords hands-on planning and execution across the spectrum of warfighting for both strike group staffs, strengthening our military understanding and capability.”
The exercise will see a total of approximately 6,000 sailors from Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, and will feature UK sailors serving aboard America’s carrier as a part of UK-US Long Lead Specialist Skills Program intended to qualify allied troops for service on American carriers, as well as a means by which to increase interoperational capabilities between America’s massive carriers and the UK’s new flag-ship.
Russia has moved to rapidly develop the arctic in recent years, as the shift in the world’s climate enables improved access to the region. As a result, naval exercises in the North Atlantic have grown in importance since the last Saxon Warrior training cycle, which occurred in 2011.
U.S. sailors routinely participate in multilateral and joint exercises with Allies and partners, both underway and in port. Participation in exercises like Saxon Warrior enables the United States to maintain its combined warfighting readiness and be prepared to respond to crises around the world.” The Defense Department said in a press release.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Navy