Royal Navy's HMS Prince of Wales leaves Portsmouth to prepare for Nato mission

HMS Prince of Wales left Portsmouth this morning for exercises after being made the Nato flagship.

As reported, the aircraft carrier will take part in a three-week warm-up ahead of her new job as the alliance's front-line maritime task force in the Arctic, Baltic and Mediterranean over the next year.

The mission will be the Prince of Wales first since the £3.2bn vessel entered the naval service.

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HMS Prince of Wales leaving Portsmouth this morning.

She left her home port in Portsmouth at about 8am today for the mission, which has been placed due to tensions between Moscow and the West.

Russia has placed a huge build-up of military forces on the Ukrainian border, with 100,000 troops now massed near the country.

The 700-strong Prince of Wales crew came together yesterday for a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base that marked the start of the ship's one-year mission.

Captain Steve Higham told The News: ‘We have got our orders loud and clear - we’ve got to be ready to respond and we will be.

‘The great advantage for us is that we will be working with partners and allies from across the Nato alliance and that strength in depth is what gives us the real edge.’

He added: ‘This is the start of HMS Prince of Wales’s 50-year life. And to start right at the heart of Nato, as the Nato flagship, is really important.'

The UK has taken over from France to run the task force, which was formed to deal with major global incidents.

The task force will be run for the next 12 months by Commander UK Strike Force – the most senior sea-going staff of the Royal Navy, headed by Rear Admiral Mike Utley.

Rear Admiral Utley said: “Nato is the cornerstone of the UK defence and our commitment to the alliance is absolute, and it is a privilege to be the UK Maritime Component Commander moving into our vital role this year.

“The Royal Navy is global, modern, ready and well-placed to support Nato in all its endeavours.”

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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