The UK Royal Navy’s new Carrier Strike Group has assembled for the first time, marking the beginning of a new era of operations. HMS Queen Elizabeth is at the center of the group which is the start of joint carrier operations between the Navy and its NATO allies.

Nine ships, 15 fighter jets, 11 helicopters and 3,000 personnel from the UK, US and the Netherlands are now carrying out exercises in the North Sea.

According to the Royal Navy, the strike group is the largest and most powerful European-led maritime force in almost 20 years. It is also the largest carrier strike group fielded by the UK since the 1980s.

“The new UK Carrier Strike Group is the embodiment of British maritime power, and sits at the heart of a modernised and emboldened Royal Navy,” said Commodore Steve Moorhouse, the strike group’s commander.

“Protected by a ring of advanced destroyers, frigates, helicopters and submarines, and equipped with fifth generation fighters, HMS Queen Elizabeth is able to strike from the sea at a time and place of our choosing.

Carrier Strike offers Britain choice and flexibility on the global stage; it reassures our friends and allies and presents a powerful deterrent to would-be adversaries.”

In addition to five Royal Navy F35 fighters, HMS Queen Elizabeth carries a detachment of 10 US Marine Corps F35Bs, allowing airmen from both services to work together.

Queen Elizabeth is escorted by the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyers, HMS Diamond and HMS Defender, the US Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS The Sullivans, the frigates HMS Northumberland and HMS Kent and the Dutch Navy’s HNLMS Evertsen.

Two Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships, RFA Tideforce and RFA Fort Victoria, will supply fuel, food and ammunition to enabled sustained operations at sea.