Military personnel from the UK and US have co-ordinated a major exercise from a Scottish naval base, training battle staff for Britain’s new aircraft carrier.
They used HM Naval Base Clyde, known as Faslane, as their headquarters to co-ordinate the joint US/UK Exercise Saxon Warrior, involving a US carrier group and other vessels.
More than 60 Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines were on board the USS George HW Bush honing their carrier strike skills ahead of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth’s entry into service.
At Faslane a core team of 20 Royal Navy, Army and Air force personnel in the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) were joined by 60 personnel from the UK and US, both regular and reserve, to form the Exercise control staff for two weeks.
The exercise staff provided challenges for the ships and staff at sea together with scenarios to overcome.
These ranged from defeating enemy forces in the air, on land, and on and under the sea, to rescuing downed airmen, and ensuring the freedom of merchant and pleasure craft to use the seas.
Exercise Director, Captain Andrew Stacey, RN, Captain JTEPS, said: “Exercise Saxon Warrior is an incredibly important and exciting step in the regeneration of the UK’s Carrier Strike capability.
“For my team, Saxon Warrior represents the culmination of a long planning process and also marks the first step in a busy future of UK Carrier Strike Group training.”
The task group comprised seven US, Norwegian, and British ships, a US and Royal Navy submarine, and the Carrier Air Wing of more than 90 aircraft and nearly 10,000 people.
Exercise activity was centred around the scenario of a conflict between neighbouring countries – one supported by a multinational naval force and Carrier Strike Group, the other by frigates, destroyers, submarines and land-based aircraft.
Supporting aircraft also simulated air raids, with 29 Commando and Swedish tactical air controllers providing forward observation to ships and aircraft dropping ordnance on Cape Wrath in the far north of Scotland.
The aim was to help train Commander UK Carrier Strike Group (COMUKCSG) battle staff ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in Portsmouth later this year.
Rear Admiral John Weale, Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “We were very glad to welcome the participants and exercise staff from Saxon Warrior to Scotland.
“As Scotland’s only naval base, Clyde is playing an increasingly important part in Royal Navy activity and has very much become the base of choice for our allies and partner nations.
“Scottish waters provide unique training opportunities and we should all feel proud of the part we are playing in our collective security and in preparing the UK’s carrier strike group for future operations.”