Royal Navy personnel on UK carrier shares family bond with Indian military
One Royal Navy personnel serving on the UK’s largest warship – the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which recently sailed into the Indian Ocean with its strike task group – shares a unique bond with India that exemplifies the “living bridge” between the two countries.
Jagjeet Singh Grewal, a leading engineering technician serving aboard the fifth generation aircraft carrier, has a long family history in the Indian military. Members of his extended family have served in both the British and Indian armed forces over the decades.
“My grandfather and grandfather-in-law served alongside the British Army in World War 2 and received a Mention-in-Dispatches, Burma Star, Africa Star, War Medal and Defence Medal,” he said, referring to decorations and medals given by Britain.
“My father served in the Indian Air Force, and currently my wife’s brother and uncle are serving in the Indian Navy,” he added.
The UK carrier strike group recently entered the Indian Ocean as part of the country’s most ambitious naval deployment for two decades, and will soon conduct joint exercises with the Indian Navy as part of Britain’s efforts to enhance its profile in the Indo-Pacific.
Grewal works in the marine engineering department and is responsible for maintaining aviation fuel to the highest standard. He also maintains fuelling pumps on the flight deck of the HMS Queen Elizabeth so that F-35B jets, Merlin helicopters and other aircraft can operate to their optimum capacity.
“I am focused on doing my job to the highest standards, but it is good to know I am maintaining my family links while working with the Indian military,” Grewal said.
As the UK carrier strike group currently sails in the Indian Ocean, engaging with allies on its 26,000-nautical mile maiden deployment, Grewal feels a special delight in being part of the crew and training in waters near his ancestral home.
Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson have referred to “living bridge” of people, ideas, arts and culture between the two countries, and especially the role of Indian-origin people in the UK. This includes an Indian diaspora of more than 1.5 million people in the UK, with contributions to Britain’s politics, business, academia, medicine and arts.