HMS Prince of Wales: Royal Navy aircraft carrier arrives off Isle of Wight ahead of Portsmouth arrival

EXCITEMENT is ramping up ahead of the imminent arrival of Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, to Portsmouth.

Thursday, 14th November 2019, 11:53 am
HMS Prince of Wales conducting deck landings on board for the very first time at sea. She was supported by 820 Naval Air Squadron operating the Merlin Mk 11 aircraft during these deck landings. Photo: LPhot Alex Ceolin

The mighty warship – one of the largest ever built for the Royal Navy – has completed her sea trials and spent last night sailing through the Channel.

The 65,000-tonne behemoth is now pitched off the coast of the Isle of Wight, with sources telling The News she is expected to make her grand debut into Portsmouth potentially tomorrow or Saturday.

The Royal Navy has not yet confirmed an exact time or date of HMS Prince of Wales’s historic maiden entry to the city.

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However, insiders on the naval base and on the ship have told The News the aircraft carrier was initially expected to arrive sometime after midday tomorrow – so long as the weather holds out.

The navy could, however, postpone the ship’s arrival if conditions are not safe enough for her to enter the port. An official announcement will be revealed on the naval base’s Twitter account, a spokeswoman said. 

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HMS Prince of Wales’s arrival heralds a new era for the military base.

Jubilant Senior Service top brass have said the behemoth’s maiden voyage into the city will be something the entire nation can rally behind.

Speaking exclusively to The News ahead of the carrier's arrival, fleet commander Vice-Admiral Jerry Kyd, former commanding officer of Prince of Wales’s sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, said the arrival would be a huge moment for Portsmouth.

‘Portsmouth is the premier naval base, it’s the carriers’ home, and to see two four-and-a-half-acre-deck carriers, the likes of which Portsmouth has never seen before, is going to be sublime and profound,’ he said.

‘For the city to be home of the world’s most advanced fighting ships shouldn’t be lost on the population of Portsmouth. 

Prince of Wales’s arrival has come sooner than planned. Initially, she had been expected to arrive at the end of November.

However, The News understands the mighty warship’s sea trials have gone without any major hitches, allowing her scheduled arrival to be pushed forward.

Meanwhile, HMS Queen Elizabeth is concluding the final part of her sea trials in America.

The warship left the city in September to take on the second round of flight trials with Britain’s new stealth jet, the F-35.

She has spent several weeks off the east coast of Florida to conduct the flight tests, which had an operational focus of integrated the state-of-the-art warplanes with the small carrier strike task force led by Queen Elizabeth.

Sources have told The News the warship is expected to visit Norfolk, Virginia – potentially as early as tomorrow – before she heads back home for the UK.

It’s expected Queen Elizabeth will arrive back in Portsmouth early next month.

Prince of Wales is due to be commissioned into the navy at some point next month.