Royal Navy's Second Carrier Sets Sail for the First Time
The UK’s second new aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has sailed for the first time. Eight years after she was laid down – and two years after her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from the same site – the 65,000-tonne carrier left the basin at Rosyth Dockyard on the Forth, ready to begin sea trials.
At present, the ship’s company – currently 600 strong – are focusing on a successful spell of sea trials, having prepared for months, gradually bringing the many systems, sensors and items of machinery from the galley to the main engines into life. They are joined for the trials by a team of 320 civilian contractors to monitor how the 280-metre-long leviathan performs and make any necessary adjustments.
Captain Darren Houston, HMS Prince of Wales’ Commanding Officer, said it had taken a monumental effort by sailors, shipwrights, engineers, electricians, scientists and designers to ready the nation’s most advanced warship for her debut at sea.
“I am immensely proud of the professionalism and determination that my ship’s company have shown in preparing themselves and their ship for this historic day," said Capt. Houston. "Whether through working alongside our industrial partners to support the build and commissioning of key systems or training tirelessly to operate the ship and work as a team, the crew have demonstrated unfaltering dedication and resolve in the face of a multitude of challenges."
Following her sea trials, HMS Prince of Wales will sail for her Portsmouth where she is due to be formally commissioned in the presence of her Lady Sponsor, the Duchess of Cornwall, before the end of the year.
Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, who took HMS Queen Elizabeth to sea for the first time in the summer of 2017, understands the excitement aboard HMS Prince of Wales – and realizes what her advent means for the UK and Royal Navy.
"I am delighted to see HMS Prince of Wales at sea – well done the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and her ship’s company,” said Admiral Kyd. “This is a hugely significant event for them but also for the Royal Navy and wider UK Defence. This means that, today, the Royal Navy has two aircraft carriers at sea – a powerful symbol of our government’s commitment to a strong defence and a global navy."
HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently in the North Atlantic preparing for her first operational training with UK F-35B Lightning fighters, paving the way for HMS Prince of Wales' future flight operations.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.