UK projects power in East Asia with carrier deployment

UK projects power in East Asia with carrier deployment

Queen Elizabeth strike group sends warning to China while shoring up US

TOKYO/BEIJING — In June 2018, the British navy’s flagship amphibious assault ship HMS Albion pulled into the No. 8 berth of Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, just across from the No. 12 berth, the home of the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

After vehicles were offloaded, a green net was hung in front of the hangar door, indicating that repairs were being conducted during the port call.

The Albion was one of three ships the Royal Navy dispatched to Japan that year as tensions on the Korean Peninsula had heightened to the brink of open conflict and London anticipated evacuating British nationals from South Korea if necessary.

The maintenance at the Yokosuka dock, with Japan’s Self-Defense Forces providing support, demonstrated Japan’s value as a port of call. This laid the groundwork for the U.K.’s decision to deploy ships for an extended period of time to Asia.

As soon as early next year, the Royal Navy will dispatch an aircraft carrier strike group, including the 68,000-ton Queen Elizabeth, to waters near Japan.