Britain to send largest warship, carrier strike group to Indian Ocean next year
The UK is sending its largest warship, aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, and its strike task group to the Indian Ocean early next year for its maiden voyage, with London describing the move as the country’s “most ambitious deployment for two decades”.
The deployment comes against the backdrop of growing interest in the Indo-Pacific in Europe amid concerns over China’s increased assertiveness, and the UK’s own concerns over Chinese actions in its former colony of Hong Kong, which London says have undermined the agreement on leaving the region unchanged until 2047.
“Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will lead a British and allied task group on the UK’s most ambitious deployment for two decades, its route will encompass the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and East Asia,” a British high commission spokesperson said.
“It is a natural choice for the inaugural deployment of the carrier strike task group to include a visit to the Indian Ocean and East Asia. The deployment is a sign of the UK’s commitment to regional security,” the spokesperson added.
France, Germany and the Netherlands have unveiled their strategies for the Indo-Pacific, which dovetail with India’s commitment to freedom of navigation and a rules-based order, and some experts see the deployment of Britain’s carrier task group as an effort to reinforce its relevance amid Brexit.