HMS Prince of Wales to set sail from Portsmouth as HMS Queen Elizabeth unite with French aircraft carrier
THE Royal Navy’s second £3.2bn aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, will be setting sail from Portsmouth tonight to continue with training at sea.
The 65,000-tonne behemoth arrived in the city on May 26 to take on supplies following a month-long stint at sea, which saw her carrying out flight trials with a range of helicopters.
Now the vessel, which is fractionally larger than her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, will be departing to carry on with her latest set of trials.
The warship will leave Portsmouth Naval Base at 8.40pm and is expected to pass by the Round Tower at about 9.10pm.
Accompanying the ship will be a pair of Royal Air Force officers, who joined it last month on a mission to work out new strategies for future Royal Navy-Royal Air Force operations on the UK’s aircraft carriers.
Flight Lieutenants Hayden Rose and Chris Smith are spending three months aboard Prince of Wales to look at the best way for air force personnel to integrate seamlessly with the hundreds of sailors aboard.
Although the carriers fly the White Ensign, both are regarded as national assets and will always sail with an RAF contingent embarked – either to support F-35 fast jet operations, or working alongside RAF Chinooks.
Big sister HMS Queen Elizabeth has air force pilots and ground crew embarked from the mixed RAF/Fleet Air Arm 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) for her maiden deployment.
And Prince of Wales’ has been carrying out training off the south coast with RAF Chinook helicopters as part of her lengthy work-up to become the nation’s second operational aircraft carrier.
Both flight lieutenants are logistics officers and are keen to understand how the Royal Navy operates, and how the Royal Air Force can integrate – both to support front-line operations and day-to-day as part of a ship’s company of up to 1,600 men and women.
‘The Queen Elizabeth class carriers are going to be used, part-manned and supported by the RAF – the next 50 years will see the Navy and RAF working side-by-side,’ said 28-year-old Hayden from Wiltshire.
‘We’re embedded for three months to show that this is possible and to prove the concept.’
Meanwhile, HMS Queen Elizabeth has been pictured this week for the first time operating with the French aircraft carrier FS Charles De Gaulle.
The pair of aircraft carriers united to carry out flight operations with their embarked set of jets.
On Thursday, the heads of the Royal Navy, United States Navy and French Navy embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth for a tour of the naval flagship.
The warship is on its maiden operational deployment. Expected to last 28 weeks, it will see the ship sail to the Far East and back.
British and American F-35 stealth jets are also due to carry out bombing runs against terrorist targets in Syria and Iraq, as well as providing operational support to withdrawing allied troops from Afghanistan.