A US Navy destroyer will join the UK’s newly commissioned aircraft carrier in a tour of the Indo-Pacific region next month. Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth will visit India, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea as part of the UK’s efforts to strengthen ties in the region to counter China.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth will be leading a massive strike group that will consist of two destroyers, two anti-submarine frigates, two logistical ships, and a nuclear-powered submarine. The voyage will be the largest British Navy deployment since the 1982 Falklands War.
Joining the strike will be the USS The Sullivans, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. The US accompanying the British flotilla is a clear message to China, as Washington is encouraging its European allies to send warships into the region to challenge Beijing.
“When our Carrier Strike Group sets sail next month, it will be flying the flag for Global Britain — projecting our influence, signaling our power, engaging with our friends and reaffirming our commitment to addressing the security challenges of today and tomorrow,” UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement on Monday.
It’s not clear if the flotilla will sail through sensitive waters like the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait, which would certainly escalate tensions. As part of its anti-China policies, the Biden administration frequently sails warships through these sensitive waterways, and US spy planes are constantly buzzing near China’s coast.
Crucial to the Biden administration’s China policy is boosting ties with European allies and Asian countries. France has stepped up its military activity in the region and is joining Japan and the US for joint military drills in May. Germany is expected to sail a warship to the Indo-Pacific later this year.