BRITAIN’S second aircraft carrier will be formally named after the Prince of Wales today.
Work on the under-construction warship has been halted for the naval tradition which dates back thousands of years and combines a celebration with a solemn blessing.
The naming will be carried out by the Duchess of Cornwall, the ship’s sponsor, with a bottle of whisky to be smashed against HMS Prince of Wales at the ceremony in Rosyth Dockyard, Fife, where the 65,000-tonne leviathan is being fitted out.
Charles and Camilla, known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, will attend the event along with senior politicians and naval officers.
Also visiting are politicians from Portsmouth and Chris Peacey, a veteran from Gosport who served on the previous HMS Prince of Wales which was sunk during the Second World War.
Fareham sailor Stephen Moorhouse was named the first seagoing captain of HMS Prince of Wales this week and will take over from captain Ian Groom, currently the senior naval officer on board the ship during the carrier’s build programme.
Captain Moorhouse is a former commanding officer of HMS Ocean and Portsmouth-based Type 23 frigate, HMS Lancaster.
The 44-year-old said: ‘Seeing our sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth make her debut in Portsmouth last month was an amazing sight and I look forward to one day bringing HMS Prince of Wales home to the same warm welcome.
‘Until then the ship’s company in Rosyth will continue to grow and they have much to be proud of in all the work they have done so far, working with our civilian industry partners to bring this ship to life.’
The ship’s company say they are ready for the big celebration.
Lieutenant Commander Chris Wood, of Portsmouth, is a training management officer on the ship.
He said: ‘A key moment in the life of any ship is being named, so we are looking forward to sharing this moment with our families.’
This ship’s build design phase has been running ahead of schedule, with valuable lessons being learnt from the construction of Queen Elizabeth previously.
But for the ship’s company of Prince of Wales, there is still much left to do before she can leave her dock and begin her voyage to Portsmouth.
Warrant Officer Karl Branton, a weapon engineer from Gosport, is no stranger to challenges shipbuilding can bring, having previously taken Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon out of build and to sea for the first time.
He said: ‘HMS Prince of Wales is not far enough along in her build yet to have experienced living on board, but I can say from my experience of working on board that the scale of the project still continues to amaze me,’ he said.
‘Every day of the build I learn something new about the incredible capabilities that HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will bring not only to the Royal Navy, but in support of all of our armed forces.’
Prince of Wales is being built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), a partnership of BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence.
Sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth was the first aircraft carrier to be built in the programme and set sail from Rosyth this summer. She is currently at the carriers’ home of Portsmouth.
HMS Prince of Wales is set to follow in 2019 and those working on the 280-metre carrier say lessons have been learned in the construction of the first ship which will make the second ‘more efficient’.