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HMS Prince of Wales (R09)
HMS Prince of Wales (R09) under construction.jpg
The bow of HMS Prince of Wales, August 2017
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Prince of Wales
Namesake: Prince of Wales
Owner: Aircraft Carrier Alliance
Ordered: 20 May 2008
Builder: Aircraft Carrier Alliance
Laid down: 26 May 2011[1]
Launched: 21 December 2017
Sponsored by: The Duchess of Rothesay
Christened: 8 September 2017
Commissioned: 2020[2] (planned)
Homeport: HMNB Portsmouth
Motto: Ich Dien ("I Serve")
Status: Fitting out[3]
Badge: HMS Prince of Wales ships crest.JPG
General characteristics
Class & type: Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 65,000 tonnes (64,000 long tons; 72,000 short tons)[4]
Length: 280 m (920 ft)[5]
  • 39 m (128 ft)(waterline)
  • 73 m (240 ft) overall
Draught: 11 metres[6]
Decks: 16,000 square metres
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)
Range: 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km)
Capacity: 1,600
Troops: 250
Complement: 679
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • S1850M long range radar
  • Type 997 Artisan 3D medium range radar
  • Ultra Electronics Series 2500 Electro Optical System (EOS)
  • Glide Path Camera (GPC)
  • Phalanx CIWS
  • 30 mm multiple barrel rotating cannon to counter asymmetric threats.[7]
  • Aircraft carried:
  • Current planned Carrier Air Wing of up to 40 aircraft
  • (50 full load – can be expanded to 70+):[8][9][10]
  • Aviation facilities:
  • Hangar below deck
  • Two aircraft lifts
  • Ski jump
  • HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier under construction for the Royal Navy, which will be commissioned in 2020. She is the seventh Royal Navy ship to have the name HMS Prince of Wales. Construction of the ship began in 2011 at Rosyth Dockyard and as of May 2018 is in the water being fitted out. She will be handed over to the Royal Navy in 2019, and be fully ready for front-line duties around the globe from 2023.[12]

    Unlike most large aircraft carriers, Prince of Wales is not fitted with catapults and arrestor wires, and is instead designed to operate V/STOL aircraft; the ship is currently planned to carry up to 40 F-35B Lightning II stealth multirole fighters and Merlin helicopters for airborne early warning and anti-submarine warfare, although in surge conditions the class is capable of supporting 70+ F-35B.[13] The design emphasises flexibility, with accommodation for 250 Royal Marines and the ability to support them with attack helicopters and troop transports up to and larger than Chinook size.[14]

    In 2010, the British government announced that Prince of Wales would be either sold or mothballed due to budget cuts. In 2014, during the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the aircraft carrier would be brought into active service.[15] This commitment was later reaffirmed in the government's Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 in November 2015.[16]

    Prince of Wales was formally named on 8 September 2017 at Rosyth dockyard by The Duchess of Rothesay, the wife of the current Prince of Wales.[17] Her first seagoing commanding officer will be Captain Stephen Moorhouse.[18] As of July 2019, her ship captain is Captain Darren Houston.[19]

    Design and construction

    Prince of Wales under construction at Rosyth Dockyard in December 2014

    The bow section of Prince of Wales in December 2014

    The original 2008 design envisaged flying F-35B Lightning II Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) jets from a ski-jump ramp. However, in May 2010, the government decided it would acquire the Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant, the F-35C, and convert Prince of Wales to a CATOBAR configuration.

    In May 2012, following a rise in costs associated with the CATOBAR conversion, the government announced that it would revert to its original plans of acquiring the F-35B variant and building Prince of Wales to its original STOVL configuration.[20]

    Entry into service

    In May 2010, the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) declared that the UK required only one aircraft carrier, but penalty clauses in the contract meant that cancelling the second aircraft carrier, Prince of Wales, would be more expensive than building it. The SDSR therefore directed that Prince of Wales would be built and then either mothballed or sold.[21]

    In 2012, contrary to the decisions made in the SDSR, the Royal Navy published its yearbook, A Global Force 2012/13, which stated that: "both carriers are likely to be commissioned and may even be capable of operating together".[22]

    Prince of Wales final assembly began on 9 September 2014, when hull blocks LB02 and LB03 were floated into 1 Dock of Rosyth dockyard, Scotland.[23]

    During the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Prince of Wales would be brought into active service, rather than sold off or mothballed.[15] This was later confirmed in the government's 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.[16]

    Prince of Wales was assembled at Rosyth from 52 blocks built by six shipyards around the UK. Construction began on 26 May 2011, with the first steel being cut at Govan shipyard by Liam Fox.[1] In April 2016, the ship was said to be around 80% structurally complete.[24]

    On 1 September 2017 HMS Prince of Wales' most senior officer, Captain Ian Groom, confirmed that the carrier was now essential to fulfilling the Royal Navy's 'full carrier strike capability.'[25]

    Prince of Wales was formally named on 8 September 2017 at Rosyth dockyard by The Duchess of Rothesay. On 21 December 2017, Prince Of Wales was floated out of Rosyth drydock #1 for the first time and manoeuvred to a nearby jetty for fitting out and further systems integration.[17][26][27]

    Under current plans, Prince of Wales will start sea trials in 2019 and be commissioned in 2020.[2][27] As of 19 September 2019 it was expected that she would leave Rosyth dockyard for the first time that day, and put to sea later in the week.[28]


    809 Naval Air Squadron will be the first Fleet Air Arm squadron to operate the F-35B

    The two ships of the Queen Elizabeth class are each expected to be capable of carrying forty aircraft, a maximum of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters.[29] The 2010 SDSR anticipated the routine deployment of twelve F-35Bs, but a typical warload will be 24 F-35Bs and some helicopters.[30] These could be a Maritime Force Protection package of nine anti-submarine Merlin HM2 and five Merlin Crowsnest for airborne early warning; alternatively a Littoral Manoeuvre package could include a mix of Royal Navy Commando Helicopter Force Merlin HC4, Wildcat AH1, RAF Chinooks, and Army Air Corps Apaches.[30] As of September 2013 six landing spots are planned, but the deck could be marked out for the operation of ten medium helicopters at once, allowing the lift of a company of 250 troops.[30] The hangars are designed for CH-47 Chinook operations without blade folding and for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, whilst the aircraft lifts can accommodate two Chinooks with unfolded blades.[31]

    Passenger/crew transfer boats

    The two ships of the Queen Elizabeth class will each carry four PTBs made by Blyth-based company Alnmaritec.[32] Each PTB carries 36 passengers and two crew to operate the vessel. The boat 13.1m long and is davit-launched. To enable the craft to fit into the docking area the navigation and radar masts are fitted with Linak actuators so that they can be lowered automatically from the command console. The enclosed cabin is heated and there is a set of heads forward.[33]

    Weapons systems

    Defensive weapons include the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence, and 30mm Automated Small Calibre Guns and Miniguns for use against fast attack craft.[7]


    The bow section of Prince of Wales is delivered to Rosyth in May 2014; the ship's sister Queen Elizabeth is in the dry dock behind

    The Queen Elizabeth-class carrier will be the eighth HMS Prince of Wales, named after the title traditionally granted to the heir apparent of the British monarch. The name was announced at the same time the sister ship Queen Elizabeth's name was announced.

    Due to the early decommissioning of HMS Ark Royal under the terms of the SDSR in 2010, and the subsequent loss of the name Ark Royal led to a campaign for one of the new aircraft carriers to receive it. In May 2011, reports surfaced that The Prince of Wales had been approached by a senior Royal Navy officer on the subject of changing the name of Prince of Wales to Ark Royal, a matter that the Prince of Wales was reportedly "pretty relaxed" about.[34]

    Prince of Wales was formally named on 8 September 2017 at Rosyth dockyard by the Duchess of Rothesay.[17]


    See also


    1. 1.0 1.1 "Steel cut on second super-carrier". Navy News. [dead link]
    2. 2.0 2.1 Maddox, David (23 March 2013). "600 Royal Navy personnel may be stationed at Rosyth". 
    3. "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 21 Nov 2011". HM Government. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
    4. "Queen Elizabeth class". Retrieved 12 January 2018. 
    5. "Queen Elizabeth Class". Royal Navy. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
    6. "Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF)". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
    7. 7.0 7.1 "Queen Elizabeth class: facts and figures". Royal Navy. 
    8. "Royal Navy – Global Force 2013" (PDF). p. 86. [dead link] – source: Royal Navy.
    9. "What will the Queen Elizabeth class carriers carry?". UK Defence Journal.  – source: UK Defence Journal.
    10. "Replacing the Invincibles: inside the Royal Navy's controversial £6.2 billion warships". Wired.  – source: Wired UK
    11. "Fleet Air Arm: future aircraft". Royal Navy. 
    12. "Iconic structure is installed on HMS Prince of Wales". 
    13. "Replacing the Invincibles: inside the Royal Navy's controversial £6.2 billion warships". Wired. 19 March 2017. 
    14. "Portsmouth Naval Base facts". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 24 February 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2008. 
    15. 15.0 15.1 "UK aircraft carrier Prince of Wales to go into service". BBC News. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
    16. 16.0 16.1 "National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015". HM Government. 
    17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "Archived copy". 
    18. "Royal Navy appoints first seagoing Captain for HMS Prince of Wales". 
    19. "HMS Prince of Wales Commanding Officer". Royal Navy. 4 July 2019. "Captain Darren Houston" 
    20. "Defence Secretary Announces Decision on Jets for Navy's Future Carriers". Royal Navy. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
    21. "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review" (pdf). HM Government. October 2010. p. 23. ISBN 9780101794824. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. 
    22. "A Global Force 2012/13" (pdf). Royal Navy. 2013. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-906940-75-1. [dead link]
    24. "Aircraft Carriers:Written question – 33852". 20 April 2016. Retrieved 20 April 2016. 
    25. Ripley, Tim (1 September 2017). "Royal Navy considers two carriers essential for F-35 trials". Janes Defence Weekly. Retrieved 5 September 2017. 
    26. "HMS Prince of Wales floats out". Aircraft Carrier Alliance. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2017. 
    27. 27.0 27.1 "Archived copy". 
    28. "New aircraft carrier set to make maiden voyage". 19 September 2019. Retrieved 19 September 2019. 
    29. Adams, Christopher (25 July 2007). "MoD gives nod for aircraft carriers". Financial Times. Retrieved 19 September 2013. 
    30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Osborne, Anthony (11 September 2013). "U.K. Royal Navy Widening Scope of Carrier Use". Aviation Week. 
    31. Osborne, Anthony (30 August 2013). "U.K. Builds Fleet of Modernized Chinooks". Aviation Week. 
    32. "Archived copy". 
    33. "Archived copy". 
    34. Harding, T (2 May 2011). "Prince Charles 'saves Ark Royal'". Retrieved 10 May 2011. 

    External links

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