Looking Back at the VMFA-211 Deployment on Queen Elizabeth: 2021


As we prepare our interviews from the MAWTS-1 visit in November 2023, which includes one with a Marine Corps officer that deployed on the new British carrier, we looked back at her deployment.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – (December 8, 2021) With the arrival of aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211 completes a significant milestone in the redeployment from the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 21.

“The Wake Island Avengers” of VMFA-211 have been deployed aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth since the end of April 2021. During the Royal Navy carrier’s initial operating deployment, VMFA-211 and the United Kingdom’s 617 squadron completed more than 1,278 sorties, flew more than 2200 hours, and conducted 44 combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Deploying with CSG-21 was a premier opportunity for our Marines to train alongside our allies and for the Marine Corps to garner valuable lessons from operating on allied shipping in a combined environment across multiple theaters of operation,” said Maj. Gen. Bradford J. Gering, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. “VMFA-211 continues to lead the charge in F-35 training initiatives that directly enhance future warfighting capabilities of Marine aviation.”

During the deployment, VMFA-211 conducted exercises with more than ten partner nations and allies, landed 5th-generation aircraft on flat-decks of three separate nations, and validated modern ordnance capabilities. Additionally, they were the first F-35B squadron to deploy as a 10-jet squadron as outlined in the Commandant’s Planning Guidance.

“As the U.K. Carrier Strike Group says ‘farewell’ to our Marine Corps colleagues, I wish to thank them for their commitment, loyalty, professionalism and great humor,” said Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse, U.K. CSG-21 Commander. “The achievements on this deployment have been ground breaking and raised the bar in terms of integration. As the saying goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go strong, then go together.’ Semper Fidelis.”

In addition to the supporting the U.K.’s return to carrier strike, VMFA-211 learned from the proud traditions and experience of the Royal Navy. Whether conducting maintenance on aircraft in the hangar, flying integrated divisions in support of multinational exercises, or sharing a meal in the mess deck, the U.S. Marines and Sailors and the Royal Navy Sailors experienced CSG-21 together.

“The deployment with CSG-21 was extremely successful for VMFA-211 in many ways, from conducting combat operations from a foreign allied vessel to demonstrating interoperability with our

U.K. partners, along with multiple other strike groups, in the face of near-peer adversaries,” said Lt. Col. Andrew D’Ambrogi, the commanding officer of VMFA-211. “The hard work and fortitude the Marines demonstrated over the past eight months have been nothing less than impressive having just executed the first 10-plane F-35B operational shipboard deployment.”

VMFA-211 disembarked HMS Queen Elizabeth at Naval Station Rota on December 2, 2021. On Dec 5, the main body personnel and equipment flew from NAVSTA Rota to MCAS Yuma. A small contingent of Marines remained aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth to facilitate the movement of the squadron’s gear back to the United States.

“[Marines with VMFA-211] were tremendous representatives of the United States Marine Corps during Carrier Strike Group 21,” said Brig. Gen. Simon Doran, U.S. Senior National Representative to the United Kingdom’s CSG. “From the North Sea to the South China Sea, from supporting combat operations in Operation Inherent Resolve to landing on four different classes of ship from three nations, the Marines of The Wake Island Avengers embodied our core values and built on our Corps proud legacy.”

3rd MAW continues to “Fix, Fly and Fight” as the Marine Corps’ largest aircraft wing, and remains combat-ready, deployable on short notice, and lethal when called into action.


Story by 1st Lt. Zachary Bodner

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing