The Queen Waves Goodbye to her most Powerful Consort

How’s this for a great photo-ex? Triple flattops.

HMS Queen Elizabeth, USS Carl Vinson, and JMSDF Izumo-class helicopter destroyer JS Kaga transiting in formation with an airborne flypast comprising (left to right): F-35B (617 Sqn), F-35C (VFA-147), F/A-18E Super Hornet (VFA-192), E/A-18G Growler (VAQ-136), E-2D Hawkeye (VAW-113), F/A-18F (VFA-2), F/A-18E (VFA-113), F-35C (VFA-147) and F-35B (USMC VMFA-211). In the background, the eagle-eyed will see pair of Sea Hawk helicopters.

One of the most unsung members of the UK Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21), formed for the inaugural deployment of the largest British aircraft carrier in history, has been the guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68). While a 24-year-old Flight I Burke, Sully’s Aegis suite and SM-2 missiles are still much more effective against high-end threats than the other two air-defense escorts of the task force, the Type 45 destroyers HMS Diamond (D34) and HMS Defender (D36)— which are reportedly plagued by “technical issues” as a class.

Sailing from her DESRON 28 homeport at Mayport on 19 April 2020, bound for the United Kingdom in order to join the British carrier strike group for deployment, Sully finally broke away from CSG21 on 20 October 2021, headed home after some 18 months on loan to the RN.

RN photo

“Thank you and fair winds,” noted First Sea Lord, ADM Tony Radakin.

Of course, and somewhat ironically, Sully is named for a five-pack of tough Irish-American brothers. Who better to escort the Queen?

The Sullivan brothers on board USS Juneau Joe, Frank, Al, Matt, and George. NH 52362

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