The aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, pictured here sailing in the South China Sea last week, called at Naval Base Guam on Friday August 6, 2021 (US Navy)
Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and her strike group made a stopover at US Naval Base Guam on Friday, one of the group’s many stops as it crosses the Indo-Pacific.
Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the strike group’s commander, said in a US Navy press release on Friday that the group had visited more than 20 countries since leaving the UK in May.
“Our visit to Guam provides an opportunity for much needed rest and recreation,” he said. “We are grateful to the United States Navy for the use of their facilities, and we look forward to exploring this beautiful Pacific Island.”
Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero greeted the attack group, while Naval Base Guam Commander Captain Mike Luckett described the group’s deployment as “an incredible and historic milestone for the Royal Navy and the ‘US Navy,’ the statement said.
Guam, which has vaccinated 80% of its population, reduced many of its coronavirus restrictions in July. However, around 100 new cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease of the coronavirus, have emerged over the past week. Most of these infections have occurred among the unvaccinated.
British sailors will follow Naval Base Guam policies and local regulations, including preventive measures against coronaviruses, during their stay, according to the Navy.
In mid-July, the BBC reported an outbreak of around 100 coronavirus cases aboard British Response Group ships, despite a 100% vaccination rate. British Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace later confirmed that the crew of four ships tested positive for the virus.
The strike group shutdown in Guam concludes roughly the first third of the group’s deployment, which is expected to cover 26,000 nautical miles over 7.5 months and visits to 40 countries. The strike group is expected to arrive in Japan in September.
The Queen Elizabeth is escorted by numerous Royal Navy ships, the Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS Eversten and the guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans. F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 are also on board the ship.
Before arriving in Guam, the group crossed the disputed South China Sea, according to a tweet released by the US Navy on Wednesday.
The strike group also participated in several exercises, including its first operation alongside the USS Ronald Reagan strike group in the Gulf of Aden on July 12.
The Indo-Pacific presence of HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first deployment of a British strike group to the region in 25 years. The carrier is making its first operational deployment.
The Royal Navy has announced plans to send two more ships to the Western Pacific. River-class offshore patrol vessels HMS Spey and HMS Tamar will be permanently deployed to the region this month, a Royal Navy spokesperson said in July.