Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales take one step closer to front-line operations during latest stint at sea

BRITAIN’S newest aircraft carrier has edged one step closer towards front-line operations after a three-week stint at sea.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 3:56 pm

HMS Prince of Wales has been carrying out aviation trails with the RAF and Commando Helicopter Force.

It was the 65,000-tonne behemoth’s first trip to sea since spring 2020, after a series of floods late last year caused millions of pound of damage.

And among the aircraft touching down on the carrier’s enormous flight deck during her latest sea trials included the aerial workhorse of the RAF, the Chinook.

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HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth pictured at sea for the first time. Photo: Royal Navy

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Proudly sporting a Union Jack tail to celebrate the aircraft’s 40th anniversary of service, the helicopter has seen action in every major conflict the UK has been involved in since 1980.

As well as being able to embark F-35 stealth jets, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers can also stow a Chinook inside its cavernous hangar.

The 99ft-long aircraft can be manoeuvred on to one of the carrier’s two powerful lifts – capable of bearing the load of two F-35 jets or around 350 sailors – and lowered to the hangar deck.

The RAF CH-47 Chinook helicopter from Odiham which landed on HMS Prince of Wales is pictured in action transporting troops from 40 Commando Royal Marines. Photo: Royal Navy

So large are the lifts and hangar spaces on the new carrier – which sailed from her Portsmouth home for renewed trials earlier this month – that both can accommodate the Chinook.

‘It’s fantastic to be back at sea operating numerous aircraft types from all three Services,’ said ‘Wings’, Commander Phil Beacham, who is in charge of aviation operations aboard the carrier.

‘The ship has a combination of highly-experienced air department personnel – and much-less-experienced sailors across other departments.

‘This essential sea period is giving our new sailors crucial maritime aviation experience, moving Prince of Wales towards her full operational capability and helping to build the future Royal Navy.’

Prince of Wales spent much of her training in Lyme Bay. However, the ship did venture out into the Channel for a fuel resupply from tanker RFA Tiderace.

And the £3.2bn aircraft carrier had the opportunity to sail alongside her big sister HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time before she returned to Portsmouth on Wednesday evening.

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