This article is more than 1 year old
HMS Queen Lizzie to carry American jets and sail in support of US foreign policy
She might as well wear the Stars and Stripes at this rate
Britain's new aircraft carrier will operate as a fully fledged offshoot of the US Marine Corps, the UK's ambassador to the US accidentally confirmed on Thursday.
The 70,000-ton HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail through the South China Sea on her maiden deployment in the 2020s, Sir Kim Darroch told a Washington think tank.
Reuters reported Sir Kim as saying the deployment would take place in 2020, a year ahead of Queen Elizabeth's scheduled debut operational deployment with her F-35B fighter jets.
"Certainly, as we bring our two new aircraft carriers onstream in 2020, and as we renew and update our defence forces, they will be seen in the Pacific," said Sir Kim. "And we absolutely share the objective of this US administration, and the next one, to protect freedom of navigation and to keep sea routes and air routes open."
China has been slowly trying to annex more and more islands in the South China Sea in order to establish dominance over the region. The US Navy and its regional allies have been carrying out freedom-of-navigation exercises to reinforce the fact that international waters are not Chinese.
That deployment will take place with half the air wing provided by US Marine Corps F-35Bs because Britain hasn't ordered enough of the jets for delivery in time to fully equip the air wing by the time of the ship's first deployment.
With a combination of an air wing partially provided by the USMC and the carrier herself carrying out freedom-of-navigation exercises in an area of the world where the US maintains a heavy presence while the UK has had little or no naval presence, one forms the inescapable conclusion that British sea power in the early part of the next decade will be entirely subordinate to the US military.
This is a strange development, although quite probably a quid pro quo to the Americans in return for their supplying us with half the carrier's air wing – as well as selling us the aircraft in the first place, and "generously" allowing us to maintain parts of it.
During the Second World War, the Royal Navy in the Pacific was fully integrated with the US Navy in the name of defeating Imperial Japan. HMS Victorious was even lent to the US Pacific Fleet, complete with her RN crew and with the unofficial name USS Robin.
In more recent years, the RN sent personnel to attend RIMPAC 2014, a multinational exercise hosted by the US Navy in the Pacific Ocean. ®