The British Royal Navy was at the forefront of London’s push to the Pacific and a key part of a growing network of navies operating together in Asia. First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff Adm. Tony Radakin took over the RN in 2019 as the service was in the early stages of preparing for its aircraft carrier deployment as the UK announced plans to be more active in and around the seas. world.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Defense announced that Radakin will take over the UK Chief of Defense Staff. He will replace British Army General Sir Nicholas Carter.
In a statement, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace called Radakin “the first sea lord and outstanding chief of staff overseeing a period of transformation in the Royal Navy that has seen more ships deployed, more a long time, all over the world. This includes the maiden voyage of HMS queen elizabeth (R08) at the head of our new carrier strike group which set sail in May.
Last week, USNI News spoke with Radakin about the ongoing deployment of queen elizabeth, the AUKUS deal in which the UK and US will work with Australia to build a new class of nuclear-powered submarines, and less restrictive “come as you are” naval operations could be the future of maritime alliances.
In September, the surprise deal between London, Canberra and Washington to embark on a decades-long nuclear submarine development program brought the Royal Navy closer to Australia and US operations in the Pacific.
After canceling the agreement to purchase the Attack-class submarine from the French Navy, the Australians have reached an agreement that will begin with an 18-month planning period to bring together the RN, the Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy to determine the basic contours. for a nuclear submarine program in Adelaide, South Australia.
The agreement, “at its core, is exciting because it is large and geostrategic. And it’s much, much bigger than the Royal Navy, ”Radakin told USNI News.
“Being three like-minded nations gives you an agility and agility to get together pretty quickly and to plan to potentially do some really big things. Because you are less constrained by having to bring a whole host of other nations with you and long deliberations and so on that inevitably go with increasing complexity. “
In particular, the addition of a RAN nuclear submarine developed in collaboration with the US and UK, as well as Australia’s $ 24 billion purchase of nine Hunter-class frigates based on British-designed BAE Type-26 global combat vessels will bring a new level of interoperability between the three navies, he said.
“Throughout my career we’ve been talking about interoperability, can you come? Can you understand yourself? Can you get on the right track? Do you understand your tactics? Can you work together? and so on… It allows for a big arc, where you can be super interoperable, ”he said.
Radakin said the expansion of the British presence in the world offers more opportunities to operate with allies, such as the inclusion of the US destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68); and the Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805) with Queen Elizabeth’s strike group.
“What we’re debating is interchangeability. So when we seek to maintain our freedom of maneuver in the North Atlantic. Does it really matter whether it’s an American submarine or a British submarine? ” he said.
“When I look at the bridge queen elizabeth, does it matter whether it is a US Marine Corps jet, a Royal Navy jet, or Royal Air Force jets? And in fact when you put in the fact that you have two different nations operating on the carrier of one nation, it magnifies the importance because of the incredible investments it takes in some kind of nation to trust each other so much. .
When Radakin took over the RN in 2019, queen elizabeth completed its first series of tests with F-35B Lighting II joint strike fighters. Built from the keel to support the F-35B Short Take-off Vertical Landing (STOVL), the Queen Elizabeth deployed in May with a Marine F-35B squadron on board to complete an F-35B squadron of the Royal Air Force.
The deployment of the largest ship in Royal Navy history is part of a larger push by London to assert its global role.
When USNI News visited the carrier in 2018, visitors were greeted with a banner that read: “HMS Queen Elizabeth: Welcome to British Conventional Deterrence”.
While the main attack group ships are the Royal Navy, the build is designed so that other nations can easily enter and exit the attack group during its time at sea.
“There may be times when another nation is part of your basic carrier strike group. But for a particular mission set or an ongoing tactical mission… country ‘X’ says, ‘actually my policy and my approach it might be a little different’ or ‘I actually want to use that time to go into country ‘Y’ because I want to reach out to country ‘Y’, ”he said.
“And if you can create that build, it’s a lot easier for nations to come together because they know they’re not in these straitjackets now. They don’t have to use their national red card all the time to say, “I’m not ready for this anymore. So you actually have a framework that allows for these conversations, and they’re very, very comfortable conversations. These are not busy conversations. They’re not like ‘if you don’t come with me for that, and then you’re not part of the show.’ “
The future of the British Royal Navy in the Pacific will rest on informal alliances and ships operating without the restrictions of more formalized treaty organizations like NATO, he said. Hey gave AUKUS and the informal structure of the United States, Japan, India and Australia known as “Quad” as examples.
“Like-minded nations, or these maritime democracies, or these nations sharing common values and interests, whatever, whatever bucket you put them in, and it could be. It could be AUKUS, it could be Quad, it could be Quad plus, ”he said.
A few days after USNI News spoke with Radakin, Queen Elizabeth drilled with the US aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and the Japanese wide-deck warship JS Ise (DDH-182) just east of the Philippine Sea for two days of exercises outside the framework of a formalized multilateral treaty agreement.
“The exercise involved six different navies – the United States Navy, the British Royal Navy, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, the Royal Netherlands Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal New Zealand Navy – representing a total of 17 vessels of surface, which included four aircraft carriers, ”USNI News reported earlier this week.
As the UK expands its presence in the Pacific, it will refine how it balances a steady naval presence with operational unpredictability.
“At some level, these are almost the most scripted carrier deployments of all time. [but it’s had] real value at the strategic and operational level and has proven this capability. But I think some of our American colleagues would question the predictability of that, ”he said.
“And I think we have to have a great conversation about the year. I think this is where, again, the partnership with the US Navy really helps in terms of dynamic employment and unpredictable unpredictability.