South Korean UH-60Ps land on HMS Queen Elizabeth

Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN)-operated Sikorsky UH-60P Black Hawks landed on the HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) for the first time this week during an at-sea Defence Engagement (DE).

The UK Carrier Strike Group (UKCSG), led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, conducted a three-day DE with the ROKN to commit to the UK's policy objectives in the Indo-Pacific area, carrying out Humanitarian Search and Rescue exercises and maritime replenishment and supply at sea in corporation with the ROKN. The DE also allowed the Royal Navy to demonstrate the UK’s ability to both develop and integrate complex systems into an operational aircraft carrier and to show the UK industries willingness to support the ROK CVX Class Aircraft Carrier Projects.

two uh-60 of ROKN
Two ROKN-operated Sikorsky UH-60P Black Hawk utility helicopters land on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) on August 30, 2021. MOD Crown Copyright/LtPhot Luke Unaisi

The two ROKN UH-60P Black Hawks stationed at Busan Naval base visited HMS Queen Elizabeth whilst it was sailing in the Sea of Japan, near the Korean Peninsula on August 30. The two helicopters were transporting several high-ranking civilian and military personnel throughout the DE. Delegates included, Naval Operations ROK and Admiral BOO Suk-Jong and Deputy Fleet Commander ROK Navy, Rear Admiral CHOI Sungmok. With the development of the ROK CVX ongoing, the Korean Navy members took this visit to see how Vertical Landing and Take-Off (VTOL) aircraft operate aboard an aircraft carrier, as the ROKN plan to operate VTOL aircraft on its CVX.

Whilst the joint ROK and UK DE was ongoing close to the Korean Peninsula, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Babcock International Group and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) was signed on September 1. This MoU strengthens the relationship between the two companies as focus grows on the ROK’s CVX Aircraft Carrier Programme.

Brig Mike Murdoch, MOD defence attaché to the Republic of Korea said: ”As a member of the aircraft carrier alliance, Babcock helped build the Royal Navy’s cutting-edge Queen Elizabeth class carriers, some of the world’s most advanced ships, and the prospect of bringing their knowledge and expertise together with HHI through this MoU on carrier design is very exciting.

Brig Murdoch also said “The timing of the MoU, signed today between Babcock and HHI, is also particularly fitting as HMS Queen Elizabeth visits Korea at sea. The Royal Navy are keenly supportive of our friends and colleagues in the Republic of Korea Navy and this MoU shows how the UK and Korean industries are moving towards a closer relationship.”