Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 16, May 8, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

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HMS Queen Elizabeth is to lead an armed flotilla on a 28-week cruise more than halfway around the world

The mission's purpose, which will involve stopovers at more than 100 ports, is to show that Britain is still a global power to be reckoned with. In the words of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, the aim is "projecting our influence, signalling our power".

The carrier strike group's mission will be Britain's biggest deployment of UK naval and aerial military firepower since the Falklands war in 1982. It will include a squadron of 10 US Marine Corps F35 jets, an attack submarine armed with Tomahawk missiles, two destroyers, a number of other battleships and the greatest quantity of helicopters assigned to a single UK Task Group in a decade.

What the Ministry of Defence is describing as the "largest concentration of maritime and air power to leave the UK in a generation" will visit more than 40 countries for more than 70 engagements, including an exercise marking the 50th anniversary of the Five Power Defence Arrangements with Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

The last leg of the voyage will take the strike group into the South China Seas, close to Taiwan and end with military exercises with Japan. As the MoD admits, the deployment has been organised as part of the "UK's tilt to the Indo-Pacific region" to "bolster deep defence partnerships" in the region. In other words, a central part of the operation is to back the US's increasingly hostile posture towards China.

The aircraft carrier and its sister ship HMS Prince of Wales cost more than £6bn, but with all the connected operating costs and support the total price will be in the tens of billions. This is an extraordinary allocation of resources at a time when public services are in such a desperate state and the NHS is at breaking point.

Stop the War is working with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to protest against this futile and dangerous exercise. Please get on board with our campaign.

(Chris Nineham, Stop the War, April 26, 2021)


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