The UK Carrier Strike Group-21 (CSG-21), led by the new 65,000 tonne carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth with fifth-generation F-35B stealth fighter jets, conducted a major exercise with Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal for the last few days.
The exercise saw the uniting of 10 warships, two submarines and more than 20 aircraft, with India launching an INS Satpura missile frigate, the INS Ranvir destroyer, a Kilo-class submarine and P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft, among other assets.
The strategic signaling, which comes after the ‘Quad’ and ‘Quad-plus-France’ naval exercises in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), it was clear. Britain stated that the effort “provides tangible security for our friends and a credible deterrent for those seeking to undermine global security.”
The inaugural operational deployment of the CSG-21 led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will now head to the South China Sea, and Britain’s declaration that it will deploy two warships permanently in the Indo-Pacific, has already irritated to China.
“At a strategic level, the exercise is a muscular expression of the defense association closer than Prime Ministers Johnson and Modi planned when they agreed on the UK-India 2030 roadmap in May. Our naval facilities in Bahrain and Oman already serve as a springboard for more frequent Royal Navy deployments across the IOR, ”CSG-21 Commander Commodore Steve Moorhouse he told TOI.
When asked about China’s belligerence in the Indo-Pacific, especially in the South China Sea, the senior officer said that “freedom of navigation” was the “root” of maritime law. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is clear and the Royal Navy will continue to exercise its right to freedom of navigation in international waters.
“As UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace recently said, we do so in a spirit of trust, not confrontation. And just as we respect China, we expect China to respect us in return, ”said Commodore Moorhouse.
“The UK wants a mature and positive relationship with China, based on mutual trust and respect. There is considerable scope for constructive participation and cooperation. But, as we fight for that positive relationship, we will not sacrifice our values or our security, “he added.
Simply put, the world’s seas and oceans should be open and free for all to use. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the English Channel or the western Indian Ocean, it applies equally around the world and that is why the UK is committed to working with like-minded nations to uphold these rules and values not just here in Indo-Pacific, but in all oceans ”, he added.