Tag Archives: HMS Prince of Wales (R09)

Ready for missions

The UK on 01 October 2021 has two world-leading aircraft carriers ready for duties around the globe after HMS Prince of Wales (R09) was declared fully operational.

HMS Prince of Wales (R09)
HMS Prince of Wales (R09) ready for global missions as international exercise ends off Scotland

A fortnight-long international exercise off the Scottish coast put the stamp on two years of intensive training for the Portsmouth-based warship, 700-plus crew, the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) squadrons who will operate aircraft from her flight deck – including the fifth-generation F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter – and thousands of military personnel and civilians who support and maintain the endeavour.

It means HMS Prince of Wales (R09) can join her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) on the world stage; the latter is currently beginning the second half of her maiden deployment commanding an international carrier strike group in the Pacific.

«We have excitingly jumped the final hurdle and are now a fully-fledged strike carrier, ready at 30 days’ notice for operations around the globe», said HMS Prince of Wales’ Commanding Officer Captain Steve Higham. «This is a significant moment for the ship which will see us operate with fighter jets, helicopters, drones, and other vessel. We’ll achieve all of this by working with our friends and colleagues from the RAF, the British Army and across Defence to deliver our contribution for the UK as a problem-solving, burden-sharing partner nation. The whole Prince of Wales team are grateful for the support of our followers, our families and our friends and hope that they keep following us towards our first deployment».

The carrier’s Senior Warfare Officer Lieutenant Commander David Thompson added: «HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is at the end of a challenging yet successful journey on the road to operational readiness. We are prepared to support Commander UK Strike Forces and are relishing the opportunity to work alongside other allied nations».

The final act of the new carrier’s preparation for operations was participation in the largest military exercise hosted in the UK this autumn.

Thousands of military personnel from a dozen nations took part in the combined UK/NATO exercise Joint Warrior/Dynamic Mariner which ended yesterday, testing their abilities individually and collectively to deal with global events.

More than 20 warships and submarines, plus maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and thousands of military personnel from a dozen nations are taking part in the fortnight long combined exercise.

Ten Royal Navy vessels, plus elements of four Fleet Air Arm squadrons (troop carrying and submarine-hunting Merlins, Commando and anti-surface Wildcats and Hawk jets which have decamped from Cornwall to Scotland), Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade and the guns of their supporting artillery regiment, 29 Commando RA, plus senior staffs – around 2,000 men and women in all – represented the Senior Service.

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) and amphibious flagship HMS Albion (L14) led the Royal Navy participation, joined by frigates HMS Argyll (F231) and Lancaster (F229) – the latter fresh from operations in the Arctic – tanker RFA Tiderace (A137), support ship RFA Mounts Bay (L3008), minehunter HMS Pembroke (M107) and a smattering of P2000 patrol craft.

After a week where the participating units get to know how to work together – there are half a dozen mini task groups operating off the Scottish coast – the exercise shifts up several gears in its second week as participants face wide-ranging challenging scenarios which mirror real-world events, such as evacuating civilians from a war zone.

As well as the big-picture challenges, other facets of naval operations – gunnery on the range at Cape Wrath, board and search/counter-smuggling operations, mine warfare and swarm attacks – are all thrown into the exercise to give participants a complete workout.

Besides validating HMS Prince of Wales (R09) operationally, Joint Warrior has been used to refine the ongoing transformation of the Royal Marines into the Future Commando Force, able to rapidly deploy raiding forces when needed.

Staff onboard UK amphibious flagship HMS Albion (L14) perfected planning for commando raids which are the heart of the concept, as well as honing skills working alongside NATO allies and mastering the art of choreographing an international naval force.

«Providing a command platform for the Amphibious Forces HQ is one of the core roles of HMS Albion (L14)», explained Lieutenant Mike Cooper, responsible for Albion’s communications and information systems. «Joint Warrior allows my team to plan and execute embarking a headquarters, along with testing the wide array of computer and communication systems on board. Above all, the exercise ensures that the UK’s high-readiness amphibious assault ship is prepared for any challenge».

Beyond testing staffs, Joint Warrior exercises every member of the ship’s company: the gunnery team had to fend off assaults from fast attack craft swarming around HMS Albion (L14), the flight deck has hosted RAF Chinooks alongside more regularly Royal Navy Wildcats and Merlins, and firefighters and damage controls have been put through their paces.

«Large multi-national training exercises like Joint Warrior are fundamental to enhancing our ability to deploy high-readiness military forces to conduct coordinated joint operations», explained HMS Albion’s Commanding Officer Captain Simon Kelly. «They also give us the opportunity to work alongside NATO allies and partners, fostering vital relationships and honing our specialist roles within a large war-style scenario. During the exercise we have hosted a joint maritime and land headquarters onboard, further developing the littoral strike group concept at the heart of Royal Navy’s Commando Force concept».

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is due to return to Portsmouth in the small hours of Saturday October 2 to avoid bad weather forecast over the coming days.

Jet-powered Banshee

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) has launched drones from her flight deck as the Royal Navy begins exploring the use of crewless technology on the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

QinetiQ Banshee Jet 80+
Drones launched from HMS Prince of Wales (R09) during landmark demonstration

Fixed-wing drones – called the QinetiQ Banshee Jet 80+ – flew from the carrier’s vast flight deck to assess how they might be used to train personnel in defending against ever-more-capable fast jets and missiles.

The jet-powered Banshee, which looks like a mini fighter aircraft, can soar to 25,000 feet/7,620 m, skim just above the waves, and flies at speeds up to 400 knots (around 460 mph/740 km/h).

It is hard to detect on radar, giving it all the likeness of an incoming missile – making it a realistic adversary for sailors to train in countering aerial threats.

These drones could eventually be carried by Royal Navy warships and provide operational training to task groups wherever they might be in the world, allowing them to conduct air defence exercises on demand to test reactions and hone responses.

And the Banshee’s carrying capacity means the Royal Navy can use it for testing future sensors, weaponry and radio equipment.

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is the first Royal Navy ship to carry these drones for demonstration purposes, as she moves towards being fully operational.

The Banshee flights represent the first step for the Royal Navy in exploring how crewless tech could be operated from the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers in the future.

«There is a real need for a low-cost drone such as the Banshee that can replicate a range of the threats in the skies and provide a test bed for future payloads», said Commander Rob Taylor, lead for Royal Navy Air Test and Evaluation. «The key to this is that a warship can carry this drone with it on operations, launch it and use it to keep personnel razor-sharp in countering threats from above. The ability to adapt the payload for differing tasks is also crucial to provide value for money and interoperability across the fleet».

The demonstration with HMS Prince of Wales (R09) looked at how the drone and associated support equipment, including launcher, can be integrated within a busy ship and flight deck.

It also looked at installing sub-systems on board and procedures for moving and setting up the drone and kit on the flight deck, which has been a hive of activity as the ship trains with F-35B Lightning II jets and participates in the largest military exercise in the UK, Joint Warrior, off the Scottish coast.

Flight Test Engineers and operators from QinetiQ, which owns and operates the Banshee, flew three of the air vehicles from the drone’s launcher on the Hebrides range off the northwest coast of Scotland.

The Banshee launched from the ship and recovered to land via parachute.

The demonstration is showcasing just one of the options as part of Royal Navy Develop Directorate’s Project Vampire, which is looking at lightweight, fixed-wing carrier-borne crewless autonomous systems.

The project forms part of a series of demonstrations that will help define Royal Navy aviation of the future through the Future Maritime Aviation Force, which looks at how the Fleet Air Arm will operate in the years to come.

«It aims to capitalise on the best that industry has to offer working alongside established aviation systems already used across the globe», added Commander Taylor. «The programme will look at rotary wing and fixed wing drones to fulfil a number of tasks to increase mass on the carriers and allow crewed aircraft to maximise their capacity. The Banshee demonstration is just the start of the un-crewed autonomous systems programme of work for the Royal Navy. This is an extremely exciting time for maritime aviation and the future of the Fleet Air Arm».

Prince of Wales

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) has been commissioned into the Fleet on 10 December 2019 as the largest warship ever built for the nation.

Royal Navy commissions its 2nd aircraft carrier – HMS Prince of Wales (R09)

Her Royal Highness (HRH) The Duchess of Cornwall, as the ship’s Lady Sponsor, alongside His Royal Highness (HRH) The Prince of Wales, presided over the ceremony at Her Majesty’s (HM) Naval Base Portsmouth this morning, to an audience of 2,000 from industry, allies, friends and families.

Commanding Officer, Captain Darren Houston, read the commissioning warrant to the crew and guests gathered in the hangar which will soon house F-35B Lightning II jets and a variety of helicopters. Among those watching were the First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, ambassadors from France and USA, and the commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti.

The iconic White Ensign then replaced the Blue Ensign which has flown since she left Rosyth in September for her initial sea trials. Leading Writer Megan Ryan (27, from Stoke-On-Trent) was granted the honour of raising the new ensign; and youngest sailor, Chef Seth Day (17), cut the commissioning cake with Liesl Houston, the Commanding Officer’s wife.

«The men and women of my Ship’s Company have demonstrated significant flexibility, patience and resilience. However, I also want to recognise the wider naval family for their support of our achievements, and I am so pleased that so many of our families and loved ones are able to share this special day with us», said Captain Houston.

About 550 VIP guests, 1,400 family and friends of the ship’s company, including guests with connections to the previous HMS Prince of Wales (53), a battleship sunk on that same date 78 years earlier by Japanese forces in the South China Sea, joined the crew for the ceremony.

Leading Writer Ryan said: «I am lucky enough to have been involved in the commissioning of three ships, but this is the one I will always look back on with exceptional pride. Raising the White Ensign for the first time on HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is such a privilege that I will never forget».

Nearly 7,000 miles away, the crew of HMS Enterprise (H88) stopped at the final resting place of HMS Prince of Wales (53) and HMS Repulse (1916) last week to hold a memorial service and lower a White Ensign to the remains.

For the whole crew, from the chefs making the cakes to the warrant officers perfecting the drills, there has been a sense of pride in preparing the ship and themselves for this day.

AET Patrick Gauson (30, from Edinburgh) said: «Having been present at HMS Queen Elizabeth’s commissioning, to be involved in HMS Prince of Wales’ as well is an immense honour and privilege. It’s another day in my career that I can look back on with great pride and a sense of achievement».

AET Sam Ward (21, from York) said: «To be part of such an important day in the ship’s history gives me great pride and it will definitely be an interesting story to regale to the grandkids one day».

HMS Prince of Wales (R09), which by naval tradition will be referred to in the feminine form despite carrying the title of the male heir apparent, is marginally larger and heavier than her sister.

The carrier is powered by four diesel engines and two gas turbines, run by the 170-strong marine engineering department. They are part of a core ship’s company of about 700 which can swell to more than double that with the addition of personnel from Naval Air Squadrons and Royal Marines.

She departed Rosyth in September and conducted her first sea trials before making her first entry to Portsmouth harbour in mid-November.

More than 10,000 people across the UK have contributed to the delivery of the ship as part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, building on the experience they gained in constructing and operating HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) has recently returned from her second deployment to the east coast of North America conducting aviation trials with UK F-35B Lightning II jets and developing her warfighting capabilities. Both carriers are alongside in Portsmouth for routine maintenance and well-earned Christmas leave for their crews before resuming their programmes to reach operational capability.

Prince of Wales

The second of the UK’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales (R09), has sailed for the first time on 19 September 2019.

Britain’s second new carrier sets sail

Eight years after she was laid down – and two after her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) sailed from the very same site – the 65,000-tonne warship left the basin at Rosyth Dockyard on the Forth, ready to begin sea trials.

When she passes beneath the three iconic Forth crossings – lowering her main mast to do so – and strikes out into the North Sea, it means the two largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy will be at sea simultaneously.

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) is currently in the North Atlantic preparing for operational training with UK F-35B Lightning II jets for the first time – paving the way for front-line duties by HMS Prince of Wales (R09) just a few years from now.

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/919-foot-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. 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. We are looking forward to sea trials and the opportunity to test our new ship before heading to our new home base of Portsmouth to join our sister ship».

Leading Physical Trainer Carl Stubbs joined HMS Prince of Wales (R09) in March 2018 and is delighted to see life buzzing through the ship.

«I am extremely excited to go to sea for the first time having seen the ship come together over the past 18 months from being an empty hull to a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier, complete with a fully-trained crew. We have been busy getting the four on board gyms stocked with equipment ready to keep our sailors fit during contractor sea trials and we will be running a full fitness programme for the crew whilst we are at sea».

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, who took HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) to sea for the first time in the summer of 2017, understands the excitement aboard HMS Prince of Wales (R09) – and realises 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. I am hugely proud of the national effort, across so many industrial partners, Ministry of Defence and other agencies which has now delivered both of these magnificent ships that will sit at the heart of our defence for decades to come. I look forward to seeing HMS Prince of Wales (R09) arrive in her home port of Portsmouth soon and, in due course, Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II jets flying from her deck».

Following her sea trials HMS Prince of Wales (R09) 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.


At a glance

Total displacement 65,000 tonnes
Total length 280 metres/919 feet
Sleeping bunks 1,600
Total range 10,000 nautical miles/11,508 miles/18,520 km


Ahead of schedule

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) has been floated and moved to her fitting-out berth at Rosyth.

Britain's second aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales afloat for the first time
Britain’s second aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales afloat for the first time

In a delicate overnight operation, sluices were opened and water gradually filled the dry dock, specially enlarged for the 65,000-tonne warship and her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).

She was then moved from her home for the past three years to the neighbouring basin and J and K berths, where her sister was fitted out before departing on sea trials during the summer.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said: «This is an important moment in the monumental programme to build these two magnificent ships. I would like to thank the 10,000 people from across the UK who have helped us make such progress during 2017 on both HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) and HMS Prince of Wales (R09)».

Crew and engineers from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance monitored the process throughout, while a flotilla of tugs moved the leviathan the short distance to her new berth.

«For me, seeing water surround the ship has really made it transform from being a ship in build to a ship preparing to go to sea», said Sub Lieutenant Freddie Spreckley, who’s just joined the ship as a marine engineer after completing his professional training at HMS Sultan in Gosport. I was privileged to be one of the last few people to walk underneath the ship before the sluices opened and flooded the dock. It was very exciting – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – to be involved with this engineering milestone in the ship’s life and historic moment for the Royal Navy».

Captain Ian Groom, the carrier’s Senior Naval Officer, said that the effort made by teams from industry, the Ministry of Defence and the ship’s company to reach this milestone had been «immense».

He continued: «It has been a massive team effort and I am proud of every individual contribution. It is a fitting end to the Year of the Navy to have HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) commissioned and HMS Prince of Wales (R09) undocked and afloat for the first time. As the second of her class, HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is of strategic significance ensuring continuous carrier strike capability. Working as one team we are delivering an unmistakable sign of commitment to the defence of our great nation and that of our allies».

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is 3,000 tonnes heavier than her sister was at the same stage – as the second ship in the class, construction and fitting out has moved more swiftly thanks to the lessons learned building HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).

Originally planned for 2018, the ‘undocking’ of the carrier took place ahead of schedule and just three months after the carrier was officially named by HRH the Duchess of Rothesay, as the Duchess of Cornwall is titled in Scotland.

The next milestone in the ship’s life will be the first running up of the generators and gas turbines, bringing the ship to life, which are earmarked for middle of 2018, followed by sea trials in 2019.

Second Carrier
Named in Rosyth

HMS Prince of Wales (R09), the second of the Royal Navy’s two future flagships being built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, was officially named on September 8, 2017, during a ceremony in Rosyth, Scotland.

The Royal Navy's second new aircraft HMS Prince of Wales (R09) was named on September 8, 2017, in Rosyth (Crown Copyright)
The Royal Navy’s second new aircraft HMS Prince of Wales (R09) was named on September 8, 2017, in Rosyth (Crown Copyright)

The ship’s new sponsor, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Rothesay, followed Royal Navy tradition by triggering a bottle of 10-year-old whisky from the Laphroaig distillery in the Isle of Islay, smashing it against the ship’s hull.

This significant milestone comes just three weeks after the first aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) made her first entry into her home port of Portsmouth as part of her maiden sea trials programme.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, said: «HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is a prestigious name for what I’m sure will be a most prestigious ship. Today is yet another landmark in an incredibly busy year for the Royal Navy and shipbuilding. HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) has undergone her sea trials and arrived into Portsmouth, I have cut the steel on the new Type 26 frigates and we announced our ambitious new National Shipbuilding Strategy this week. Together these magnificent carriers will act as our statement to the world. By having two we will ensure the UK will be one of the few nations able to maintain a continuous carrier strike presence on the high seas to project our power across the world. The ship will be the eighth in the Royal Navy to bear the name HMS Prince of Wales (R09), honouring Britain’s history as a seafaring nation from the Sixth-Rate gun ship in 1693 to the ‘King George V’ Class Battleship that fought in World War II».

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said: «The name HMS Prince of Wales (R09) represents many centuries of loyal service to Crown and Country, and its return to the Royal Navy today is a moment of great strategic significance for the United Kingdom. To build one carrier is a symbol of national ambition – but to build two is a sign of real commitment to our own security and to our international responsibilities. With two Queen Elizabeth-class carriers in Royal Navy service, one will be available for operations at all times. When paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), they will provide our nation with a continuous Carrier Strike capability – a powerful conventional deterrent in a dangerous and uncertain world. I congratulate all those who have worked so hard over many years to make the Royal Navy’s carrier-led renaissance a reality».

Sir Simon Lister, Managing Director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said: «Today’s naming ceremony is a significant moment in the life of the programme and for each and every person involved in the design and construction of HMS Prince of Wales (R09), one of the largest engineering projects in the UK today. The Nation has come together to build this magnificent ship which will in turn protect our Nation’s interests around the globe. HMS Prince of Wales (R09), along with her sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), reflects the very best of British design and engineering capability and has created a once in a lifetime opportunity for highly skilled employees to be involved in an iconic programme. I am immensely proud to welcome The Royal Highnesses and our many other distinguished guests to Rosyth today».

With a crew of 679, HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is expected to carry out sea trials in 2019 before entering Royal Navy service.

There are also currently 150 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel continuing F-35B aircraft training in the United States. By the end of this year it is planned that the UK will have 14 of these fast jets, the World’s most sophisticated fighter, with initial flight trials from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) planned for 2018. With a crew of 679 HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is expected to carry out sea trials in 2019 before entering Royal Navy service.

Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox said: «The HMS Prince of Wales (R09) will do more than keep us safe and project British power across the globe. With home grown talent providing 90% of the suppliers for her and her sister ship, this aircraft carrier will also promote the strength of our shipbuilding sector. This achievement shows what a huge amount of exporting potential the sector has and, as an international economic department, we will continue to support businesses to export their goods and services, and attract the investment that creates and supports British jobs».

The final section

The second of the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier HMS Prince of Wales (R09), was given the royal seal of approval when HRH The Prince of Wales, (or Duke of Rothesay as he is referred to in Scotland), visited Babcock’s Rosyth Facilities and signalled for the final section to be lowered into place.

HRH Prince Charles places the final section of HMS Prince of Wales (R09)
HRH Prince Charles places the final section of HMS Prince of Wales (R09)

The 570-tonne block – known as Sponson 11 – was the final section of the 918.6-foot-long/280-metre-long warship to be manufactured. In an historic moment, HRH Duke of Rothesay gave the order for the massive section, which includes part of the flight deck, to be lowered into place by the Goliath crane. This allows the final welding to start in order to make the carrier structurally complete.

Ian Booth, Managing Director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said: «By the end of July we will have finished welding the final section together and the ship will be structurally complete, thanks to the commitment, skills and experience of the Alliance workforce. The team will now embark on the next phase of the ship’s construction. This involves extensive outfitting, testing and commissioning of her propulsion and mission systems, as the ship is brought to life. The ship will then start her harbour trials here in Rosyth before setting off for sea trials in 2019».

John Howie, Chief Executive – Marine & Technology Division, Babcock International, and a member of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance’s Management Board, said: «This moment marks the end of eight years of manufacturing for the Queen Elizabeth Class programme at our six shipyards across the UK. I know I speak on behalf of more than 10,000 workers who have contributed to the design and build of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers when I say we are honoured to have HRH Duke of Rothesay here to mark this important occasion».

Captain Ian Groom MBE, Senior Naval Officer for HMS Prince of Wales (R09), said: «We were delighted to have HRH Duke of Rothesay here today to mark such a significant milestone in the life of the ship, drawing the construction phase of the Royal Navy’s second Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier to a close. The focus now moves to commissioning the ship and my team will continue to work with their industry partners to bring her to life ahead of sea trials».

HMS Prince of Wales (R09) will be delivered off contract in 2019.