Royal Navy takes charge of Nato fast-reaction maritime task force

UK took over the helm from France at a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base on Tuesday

The 'HMS Prince of Wales' arrives in Gibraltar on its maiden overseas port visit on July 6, 2021. EPA
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The Royal Navy has taken charge of Nato’s fast-reaction maritime task force formed to tackle major incidents around the world.

The UK’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has become the command ship of the force for the next year.

Britain took over control from France as the head of the Maritime High Readiness Force at a ceremony held aboard the 65,000-tonne warship at Portsmouth Naval Base on Tuesday.

The Nato flag was raised aboard the carrier during the event.

The task force will be run for the next 12 months by Commander UK Strike Force – the most senior sea-going staff of the Royal Navy, led by Rear Admiral Mike Utley.

Nato is the cornerstone of the UK defence and our commitment to the alliance is absolute, and it is a privilege to be the UK Maritime Component Commander moving into our vital role this year," he said.

“The Royal Navy is global, modern, ready and well-placed to support Nato in all its endeavours.”

HMS Prince of Wales will set sail on Wednesday before planned exercises with Nato during the year, starting with a large-scale, Norwegian-led exercise.

“As well as a test of the battle staff, it will be the first test of HMS Prince of Wales since the carrier was declared fully operational at the beginning of autumn, following two intensive years of trials and training,” a Navy spokesman said.

Capt Steve Higham, commanding officer of the Prince of Wales, said: “This year, as the Nato command ship, we will spend over 200 days at sea operating globally with our allies."

Updated: January 11, 2022, 8:13 PM