Five NATO aircraft carriers hold drills in major naval deployment
NATO navies are holding manoeuvres in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea throughout November, bringing together five aircraft carriers, numerous warships and thousands of sailors. Carrier activities will include anti-submarine and air warfare drills, deck-to-deck aircraft transfers and at-sea resupplying.
In the North Atlantic, the USS Gerald R. Ford, the world’s newest and biggest warship, has arrived in the UK following weeks of drills alongside warships from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. The Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth on 10 November for F-35 fighter jet drills in the North Atlantic.
In the Mediterranean, the French Navy’s Charles De Gaulle – escorted by Greek, US and Italian ships – left Toulon on 15 November for deterrence patrols on NATO’s eastern flank and counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East. Also in the region are Italian carrier Cavour and the USS George H. W. Bush. In recent weeks, jets from the George H. W. Bush have flown deterrence patrols over Lithuania and Poland. Following exercises, Italy’s Garibaldi returned to Taranto on 15 November.
NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said the deployments “demonstrate our ability to project power across the Alliance and to rapidly reinforce Allies”. Set against the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine, she said: “These carriers deliver deterrence and they help keep our sea lines of communication open. Our strength sends a clear message that NATO will protect and defend every inch of Allied territory.” At the NATO Summit in March, Allies decided to deploy carrier strike groups, submarines and significant numbers of combat ships on patrol on a persistent basis.