Huge warships have been spotted off the coast of Wales.
The two NATO vessels appeared on Tuesday and are believed to be linked to a major military exercise planned for this month, although authorities were unable to officially confirm the reason they were there. The ships stopped in the Irish Sea near Rhyl and Prestatyn, according to data from website marinetraffic.com.
The vessels are understood to be part of Exercise Strike Warrior, which takes place off Scotland and will involve more than 20 warships, three submarines and 150 aircraft from 11 nations. It will be the UK Carrier Strike Group’s “largest and most demanding exercise” so far before it heads out on operational deployment to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific, according to the Royal Navy.
This exercise will also take place in conjunction with Exercise Joint Warrior, a NATO exercise that happens twice a year, reports North Wales Live.
Aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has already left Portsmouth as it prepares for the exercise, and will be joined by warships, HMS Defender, HMS Diamond, HMS Kent and HMS Richmond.
The Royal Navy said: “The exercise, which will run for two weeks, will see the task group pitted against warships from NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 1 in waters off north-west Scotland to prove it is capable of undertaking high intensity operations against the most demanding adversaries. The culmination of Strike Warrior will see the Carrier Strike Group certified ready for deployment, at which point operational command will pass from the Royal Navy’s Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, to the Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral Sir Ben Key.”
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Commodore Steve Moorhouse, commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said: “The advent of the UK Carrier Strike Group represents a substantial new injection of fifth generation combat power into the defence of the Euro-Atlantic region. It is therefore fitting that our final and most demanding test prior to deployment involves so many of Britain’s allies.
“As the ships and aircraft of the Carrier Strike Group assemble over the coming days, Exercise Strike Warrior is an opportunity prove to ourselves, and to the world, that we have what it takes to act as cohesive and potent fighting force at sea, under the water, in the air and over the land.”
Strike Warrior is the third and last in a series of pre-deployment exercises undertaken by the Carrier Strike Group over the past year.
It takes place concurrently with NATO’s largest biannual maritime exercise, Joint Warrior, predominantly in the north west of Scotland, which sees the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and British Army joined by forces from NATO and Australia for a series of realistic operational scenarios.
The participating NATO nations will be the UK, USA, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, and Poland. Australia is the non-NATO participant.