So Near But Yet So Far

INS Satpura, INS Ranvir and INS Jyoti on HMS Queen Elizabeth during the exercise. HMS QE picture

SHAH ALAM: So near but yet so far. If you are reading Malaysian Defence you are probably interested in military news and affairs. Your interest may not only be limited to Malaysian defence news and it is likely that you are aware the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its carrier strike group will be visiting Southeast Asia as part of its Asia Pacific tour.

The carrier strike group was previously in the Bay of Bengal where the latest report said it took part in a two-day exercise with the Indian Navy.

INS Satpura, INS Ranvir and INS Jyoti on HMS Queen Elizabeth during the exercise. HMS QE picture

From USNI News:

KUALA LUMPUR – The British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (RO8) and its carrier strike group carried out a two-day exercise called Exercise Konkan with the Indian Navy from July 21 to 22 in the Bay of Bengal. The exercise was designed to hone the ability of the two navies to operate together in the maritime domain, according to an Indian Ministry of Defence release. The exercise included anti-submarine warfare, anti-air and anti-surface warfare drills.

The exercise involved the Indian destroyer INS Ranvir (D54) frigate INS Satpura (F48), corvettes INS Kavaratti (P31) and INS Kulish (P63), oiler INS Jyoti (A58) and an unnamed Indian Navy submarine, as well as a P-8I Poseidon aircraft. The U.K. Carrier Strike Group CSG 21 includes Type 23 anti-submarine frigates HMS Richmond (F239) and HMS Kent (F78); Type 45 guided-missile destroyer HMS Defender (D36); Royal Fleet Auxiliary’s RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring; U.S. destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68); Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805); and the nuclear attack boat HMS Artful (S121). U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 is embarked with the air group along with the Royal Air Force’s 617 Squadron “The Dambusters.”

Earlier on July 19, during U.K. Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace’s visit to Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, Wallace announced via press release that the U.K. Carrier Strike Group would conduct a series of multinational exercises with global allies in the Philippine Sea in August.

Indian navy ships as they sailed along side HMS Queen Elizabeth

Unfortunately due to the pandemic the carrier strike group is not expected to make a port visit in Malaysia, I was told. This is also be the same for the FPDA Exercise Bersama Lima scheduled this October, even though Malaysia is hosting the exercise this year. Barring any last minute changes, unfortunately, we will have to cover the exercise, remotely.

The Indian Navy ships sailed together with HMS Queen Elizabeth.

— Malaysian Defence

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Shah Alam


  1. Don’t quite understand her schedule. It was mentioned the HMS Queen Elizabeth will participate in this year’s FPDA in October but she’s almost here. Does this mean she’ll be back in October?


  2. QE is probably based temporarily at East safe harbour either at Diego Garcia or Singapore. I don’t supposed they are going to be months patrolling at seas without berthing.

    Google lah…

  3. Probably best you know. Keep low, away from the gaze of the Evil Panda, just in case it retaliates. The Bersama Lima in October in significant enough, in my opinion. Plus the fact that the UK will deploys 2 ships in the Far East, as in the news.

  4. Tom Tom – “es. The Bersama Lima in October in significant enough”

    “Significant” for what exactly?

    Politically it’s good; sends a message and enablers various countries train together but what is more “significant” is the various exercises and exchanges we do with Uncle Sam and also with Australia. A RN carrier in the region will be a rare event and the overstretched RN will fund it hard to maintain a single destroyer or frigate here.

    And how we keep away from the “gaze is the evil panda” when it’s the largest FDI in the country and we are it’s largest trading partner in ASEAN?? We have to balance our relations; as we’ve been doing for decades

  5. I dont think QE CSG will do exercise in parts of SCS which have multi claimatants, so Borneo is a no go. But the group can berth Muara to do activities with Brunei Garrison.

    If Diego Garcia is too far and Singapore is too close, perhaps Darwin is in the picture for RN Far East tasking.

    No lah the CSG will go to Japan and South Korea before returning to SEA for FPDA this October. The next immediate exercise is in the Philippine Sea

  6. Nimitz – “I dont think QE CSG will do exercise in parts of SCS which have multi”

    The exercise itself will take place in parts of the SCS which are not claimed by anyone; traditional FPDA areas. What the Brits might do however is a FON cruise; that will annoy the Chinese but no big deal. It’s also worth noting that that this is not the 1st time a RN carrier has participated in a FPDA exercise. For Flying Fish 1997 the task group was commanded by a RMN Admiral onboard a RN carrier.

    Us jointly exercising with the RN Carrier Group under the auspices of the FPDA will also not annoy the Chinese as some have suggested.

  7. Marhalim,

    Does Sepanggar has a deep enough berth to take a carrier? I know USN LPDa and assault ships have berthed there before but a carrier? Come to think of it neither Lumut, Langkawi or Gelang can take a carrier.

    Maybe not berth at the naval base but at the KK port as USS John Stennis did in 2012

  8. Unfortunately China do get annoy with any exercises we do with any countries out of Asean. Of course their annoyance has not been public for obvious reasons.

  9. N9,

    A “huge PRC industrial complex” is no reason why a carrier shouldn’t dock there but given that the berth isn’t deep enough to a accommodate a carrier”s deep drought; it’s a moot point.
    It’s simply just not practical to have a base far from any civilian population or any foreign presence ….

  10. @N9
    No different from many moons ago when these carriers were docking in cruise line berths at Port Klang.

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