Royal Navy: HMS Prince of Wales shows colossal strength as she completes breath-taking formation on Nato task

HMS Prince of Wales has completed the "largest maritime manoeuvre" of a huge Nato mission involving several ships.

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier is currently operating off the coast of Norway on the largest Nato mission since The Cold War - Exercise Steadfast Defender. She lead the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG), which was joined by a Nato Amphibious Task Group and a range of aircraft.

The formation of 15 ships from eight nations gave the men and women on board the chance to practise close manoeuvres. They combined forces as part of Exercise Nordic Response. The task allowed vessels and their aircraft to demonstrate their ability to defend allied territory while simultaneously defending themselves from potential enemies.

Commodore James Blackmore, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said: “This has been the largest maritime manoeuvre of Exercise Steadfast Defender 24, amalgamating the UK Carrier Strike Group, the Amphibious Task Group, Norwegian and allied vessels, all over flown by a multitude of fixed wing aircraft from the alliance. These manoeuvres are challenging to plan but make for a stirring sight when they come together and demonstrating the might of capability.

“I can’t think of a better symbol of NATO unity, trust, and resolve than these ships coming together; it really embodies what Steadfast Defender has achieved so far and will continue to do so over the coming months.” The Royal Navy vessels which supported HMS Prince of Wales include frigate HMS Portland, Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Tidespring and amphibious landing ship RFA Mounts Bay.

They were joined by Spanish frigate ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon; German replenishment ship FGS Bonn; Norwegian frigate HNoMS Otto Sverdrup, corvette HNoMS Gnist, patrol vessels HNoMS Olav Tyrggvason and HNoMS Magnus Lagabote; Norwegian coast guard ship KV Bjornoya; Dutch support ship HNLMS Karel Doorman; Italian aircraft carrier ITS Giuseppe Garibaldi; French frigate FS Normadie; and US destroyer USS Paul Ignatius.

A fly past was also conducted by Swedish JSA-39 Gripens and Finnish F-18 Hornets. Three Royal Navy photographers documented the experience with stunning pictures. LPhot Stuart Dickson said: “Photographing and filming a formation of this size was a first for me as a RN photographer, with the added challenge of capturing the fixed wing aircraft as they passed over the assembled ships.

"The Merlin aircrew who were flying us were really helpful, manoeuvring whenever we asked and giving us all the angles that we needed. The whole of Exercise Steadfast Defender has been a great experience as a photographer – from the Norwegian fjords, humpback whales and the Northern Lights on top of all the NATO maritime and air activity there has been to capture.”