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HMS Ark Royal Welcomes 1(F) Joint Force Harrier Squadron to Auriga Task Group

1 squadron RAF embarked onboard HMS Ark Royal
1 squadron RAF embarked onboard HMS Ark Royal
1 squadron RAF embarked onboard HMS Ark Royal

HMS Ark Royal, the Nation’s Strike Carrier and Flagship of the Royal Navy, continues to enjoy a busy time whilst on the Multi-National Auriga deployment, welcoming her third harrier squadron since leaving Portsmouth Naval Base on 5 April 2010.  Originally embarking 800 Squadron from Joint Force Harrier – formerly Naval Strike Wing, before the arrival of twelve AV8B harriers from the United States Marine Corps, now, 6 GR9 Ground Reconnaissance harriers from 1(F) Squadron, Joint Force Harrier, have assumed the mantle of launching from HMS Ark Royal to provide the UK with its ‘Strike’ capability.

Whilst she was alongside in Mayport, Florida, the one hundred and forty three US marines and their aircraft disembarked HMS Ark Royal to make way for the one hundred and sixteen personnel from 1(F) Sqn of the UK’s Joint Force Harrier.  In order to embark the harriers, it is essential that the Ship generates sufficient ‘wind over the deck’ to assist the pilots in keeping perfectly aligned with the markings on the flight deck to enable a safe landing, therefore, once sufficient sea space was attained, the jets were welcomed onboard by HMS Ark Royal’s Flight Deck Officer, Lt Paul ‘Mo’ Morris, who said: “It’s always a pleasure and privilege to welcome the jets onboard.  My team and I are the first members of the Ship’s Company the pilots see.  Flying Control, way up in the island, ‘bring them in’ over headset comms but I make it my responsibility to personally welcome each pilot to the Ark Royal team.”

Operating in the exercise areas off the coast of Florida, Virginia and North Carolina the whole Squadron will initially conduct an induction period to integrate with Ark Royal’s safety procedures as part of the “Safe to Operate” phase.  Over the course of a week the pilots will become deck qualified before continuing with the interoperability exercises making up the Auriga deployment.  In the first twenty-four hours onboard, the Squadron has managed 8 landings and 22 approaches.

HMS Ark Royal has already proved her interoperability capability and effectiveness in ‘strike’ operations; it is now down to sustainability.  Commander “Rocky” Salmon RN, Commander Air in HMS ARK ROYAL said: “It is fantastic to see 1(F) Squadron back onboard Ark Royal and we are all very much looking forward to the excellent training opportunities so as to really develop our Carrier Strike capability”.

Part of this development will see the Squadron move from practising their deck landings to tactical flying including bombing raids in the West Atlantic Exercise Areas over the next eight weeks.

Commodore Simon Ancona, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group based in HMS ARK ROYAL added: “It is good to see 1(F) Squadron integrate back as part of the task group for this essential next step of re-integrating Joint Force Harrier in support of continuing operations”.

This sentiment is echoed by Wing Command Haines RAF, Officer Commanding 1(F) Squadron: “Our embarkation has gone smoothly and as planned, we are now looking forward to an exciting and challenging time over the next eight weeks onboard HMS Ark Royal”.

What is certain is that the combination of the HMS Ark Royal’s spirit as echoed in the Ship’s motto: “Zeal does not Rest”; and 1(F) Squadron’s: “First in all things” means that the next eight weeks will highlight the flexibility and capability of the Joint Force Harrier and HMS Ark Royal’s ability to lead a strong and diverse task group.

AURIGA is the major Royal Navy deployment of 2010, exercising on the Eastern Seaboard of North America and in the Western Atlantic.  Deploying from the UK in April of 2010, the Carrier Strike Lead Task Group will initially consist of approximately 2,000 UK, US and French personnel in 4 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, a French nuclear powered submarine, an American Destroyer and several rotary and fixed wing aircraft.  Later on in the deployment the Amphibious Task Group consisting of approximately 2,000 personnel and 3 ships will join for the final exercise.
The deployment will focus on a series of US and Canadian exercises with the principal aim of enhancing our Operational Capability by training with our coalition partners in traditional war-fighting areas of Carrier Strike, Amphibious Assault and Anti-Submarine Warfare operations.  Elements of the Task Group will also participate in the International Fleet Review taking place in Halifax to celebrate the Centennial of the Canadian Navy.
The Task Group is Commanded from HMS ARK ROYAL by Commodore Simon Ancona Royal Navy, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group.
1(F) Squadron – Joint Force Harrier


The AURIGA official web is at: AURIGA

The AURIGA Carrier Strike Task Group is made up of the following units:

HMS Ark Royal is the Royal Navy Fleet Flagship:

HMS Sutherland is a Type 23 frigate:

USS BARRY is an Arleigh Burke guided missile destroyer:

HMS Liverpool is a Type 42 destroyer:

RFA Fort George is a Fleet Replenishment ship:

FS PERLE is a French SSN:

The Amphibious Task Group will join AURIGA in June and include:

HMS Albion is a assault ship with a landing platform dock:

HMS Ocean is an assault ship to deliver EMF:

RFA Largs Bay a Landing Ship Dock (Auxillary):

USS Kerasage is an amphibious assault ship:

Air Squadrons in the Task Groups

814 naval air squadron

815 naval air squadron

857 naval air squadron

1(F) Squadron – Joint Force Harrier