August 3, 2021 – The British Carrier Strike Group, which also includes HNLMS Evertsen belongs, has been sailing in the Philippine Sea since this week. After an uninterrupted period of almost 40 days on the water, another port is on the horizon. The fleet has now passed through the South China Sea, among other places.
Training has been conducted with the Indian, Malaysian and Singaporean navies. Exercises with the Japanese and Korean naval forces are still on the agenda.
Since the departure on May 22 from Den Helder, Evertsen has completed more than 15,000 nautical miles. Since the ship was the first partner of the UK Carrier Strike Group to pass through the Suez Canal, it has been a productive and interesting period.
The commander looks back with satisfaction: “Being aboard this air defense frigate is a celebration every day. We experience interesting things. For example, F-35 fighter planes took off from HMS Queen Elizabeth, while this aircraft carrier was being supplied with fuel on the high seas”, cites captain-lieutenant George Pastoor as an example.
“That oil came from the British supply vessel RFA Tidespring.” Incidentally, Evertsen simultaneously functioned as a pumping station for Evertsen. Pastoor speaks of a maritime tour de force, which is indicative of the good integration of Evertsen in the task group. It was also a demonstration of the capabilities of the Carrier Strike Group.
The so-called fighter controllers are also on board the naval vessel. They control the F-35s from the command center. The fighter planes use the sea voyage to keep up their training: above sea, around the coastline and in collaboration with aircraft from other countries. In formations, for example, air battles have been conducted. Planes were of course not really taken out of the sky.
However, there are also points of concern, Pastoor agrees. “The corona crisis is still very noticeable here in Asia. That means uncertainties surrounding port visits. We are at sea longer than planned. We can handle that. But it is also nice for the crew to stop on land for a while to relax.”
In total, Evertsen away for about 7 months. Due to corona, some diplomatic activities in the ports are also canceled or are being adjusted. “All in all, no showstoppers, but it’s a shame.”
The UK Carrier Strike Group, centered on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, consists of Evertsen and RFA Tidespring seven other ships. They are all charged with assisting the Queen Elizabeth. One thing is clear, the British Carrier Strike Group has so far shown that it can carry out operations all over the world, together with international partners.