COVID-19 outbreak has been recorded on four ships of the British aircraft carrier group, led by the flagship of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
In addition to the aircraft carrier, the group includes the British destroyer HMS Defender, frigates HMS Kent and HMS Richmond, the US Navy destroyer The Sullivans, and the Dutch frigate Evertsen. The group is also accompanied by the Royal Navy’s Astute-class nuclear attack submarine equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles, and Tide-class replenishment tankers RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tidespring.
About 100 of the HMS Queen Elizabeth were diagnosed with COVID-19. The carrier group is currently in the Indian Ocean and will later go to the South China Sea, and then to Japan.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said the COVID-19 outbreak is under control as all crew members have been vaccinated with two components of the coronavirus vaccine. They are instructed to wear masks and maintain social distance.
The strike group will continue to carry out its operational tasks, and the situation with the coronavirus will not change the plans for the deployment. The deployment was supposed to show the UK’s close attention to the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
In May, the carrier departed from the Portsmouth naval base on a 28-week cruise, leading an international carrier strike group. It carries eight F35B Royal Air Force fighters and 10 F35B aircraft from the United States Marine Corps, 14 helicopters, and a company of the Royal Marines. The total number of crews of the carrier strike group is 3.7 thousand people.
Built at a cost of £ 3.1 billion, Queen Elizabeth is the largest aircraft carrier in the history of the British Navy. Its deck area corresponds to three football fields. The aircraft carrier can reach a speed of 25 knots (45 km / h), its displacement is 65 thousand tons, the length of the flight deck is 280 m, and the width is 70 m. 40 combat aircraft with their crews can be placed on board.
The fleet will travel 26 thousand nautical miles (48.1 thousand km). Stops are planned in India, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan.
This is not the first case of COVID-19 aboard a British ship. In 2020, on Christmas Day, the crew of the frigate HMS Northumberland was forced to return to shore and isolate due to suspected cases of coronavirus infection.