HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group met up with allies in an exercise that saw 19 ships and more than 5,000 personnel come together. Ships and units from 11 countries joined up off the coast of Portugal for phase one of Exercise Steadfast Defender. The training saw the UK’s Carrier Strike Group rendezvous with ships from NATO Standing Maritime Groups One and Two for the large-scale defensive exercise designed to test the alliance’s ability to rapidly deploy forces to meet possible future threats.
Off the back of the exercise, Italian destroyer Andrea Doria has joined HMS Queen Elizabeth and will remain with the carrier for the next few days. The Horizon-class destroyer will operate with the UK-led force in the western Mediterranean, where she will work alongside warships from the UK, US and the Netherlands to protect HMS Queen Elizabeth and her task group from potential threats. The 7,000-tonne destroyer is fitted with a similar air defence system to the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, centred around Aster missiles.
Captain Alberto Tarabotto, the Italian destroyer’s Commanding Officer, added: “ITS Andrea Doria’s crew and I are honoured to have the opportunity to escort the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on her sailing in the Mediterranean sea. I firmly believe that this multi-domain activity represents a very significant historical moment as an expression of cohesion between all countries involved and it will show the high level of interoperability between our two navies.”
The integration of Andrea Doria into the UK Carrier Strike Group is the latest example of growing co-operation between the navies of Italy and the UK. In March this year, the Italian navy aircraft carrier Cavour undertook her first trials with the F-35B stealth fighter jets. Andrea Doria is a welcome addition to the Carrier Strike Group and we look forward to working with Royal Navy partners in the Marina Militare over the comings days. The Mediterranean phase of CSG21 highlights once again the convening power of the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers. The Mediterranean phase of CSG21 highlights once.
Pleased to be joined by the @ItalianNavy destroyer Andrea Doria for the next ten days. Another example of the convening power of #CarrierStrike – and testament to the UK’s continuing commitment to our European defence partners. #CSG21 pic.twitter.com/MwSCozH3MF
— Commander UK Carrier Strike Group (@smrmoorhouse) May 30, 2021