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American Naval Officers experience life on UK flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth

7 October 2022
Four junior US Navy officers joined the UK flagship for a brief insight into life in the Royal Navy – and Britain’s biggest warship.

The midshipmen, who are in their fourth and final year of training, jumped at the chance to experience life at sea with their closest ally, sailing with the carrier from New York to Norfolk.

They witnessed the ship’s departure from New York after hosting the latest Atlantic Future Forum as well as her arrival into Norfolk, Virginia, from the bridge.

In between they joined in damage control and firefighting with some of the 700-strong ship’s company, learning how to shore-up damage as well, how to use fire equipment and how to put on a fearnought suit. 

“It’s been a pleasure and an honour to see how the Royal Navy operates and trains onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth,” said Midshipman 1st Class Kristofer Medina. “Talking about and comparing our Navies has been a great learning experience and it’s surprising to see how similar our forces are.”

The Americans’ visit also included tours of key areas of the UK flagship and provided an opportunity to discuss the differences and similarities between the two navies with their RN young officer counterparts undertaking Common Fleet Time on their carrier, including Sub-Lieutenant Callum Clifford. 

It’s been a pleasure and an honour to see how the Royal Navy operates and trains onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.

said Midshipman 1st Class Kristofer Medina

“Seeing how the US Navy trains its officers and the way they approach their duties was interesting. It showed how, even though our navies are very close, we have our own particular ways of doing things,” Callum said.

For HMS Queen Elizabeth, this was an opportunity to further understand how training is delivered on the other side of the Atlantic.

Lt Cdr Stella Isaac, Queen Elizabeth’s Training Management Officer, said: “Observing the interactions between the US Navy midshipmen and our Young Officers was a real pleasure. Both cohorts obtained valuable insights into each other’s training and deepened their understanding of our ability to work together.”

Despite being the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers are smaller (65,000 tonnes to around 100,000) with a maximum crew of around 1,600 when an air group is embarked, compared with upwards of 5,000 sailors on a fully-operational Nimitz-class flat-top, and are not nuclear powered, unlike their US counterparts.

The United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland, is the US Navy’s counterpart to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. The two institutions have had an exchange programme running for more than fifty years which sees Royal Navy officers serve on the staff in Annapolis and a US Navy lieutenant in Dartmouth as a divisional officer.

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