Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales declared fully operational as she returns to Portsmouth
THE Royal Navy’s HMS Prince of Wales is set to return to Portsmouth this weekend as a fully operational warship after being declared fit for deployment around the globe.
The aircraft carrier is now ready for duties after two years of intensive training, culminating in the international exercise Joint Warrior off the Scottish coast over the last fortnight.
More than 20 warships and submarines, including 10 Royal Navy warships, have been taking part in the exercise, which has included gunnery tests, mock boarding raids, and simulations of civilian evacuations.
Now the fully operational HMS Prince of Wales is due back in Portsmouth at about 2am on Saturday – and she is ready for deployment around the world at 30 days notice, according to Captain Steve Higham.
The ship’s commanding officer said: ‘We have excitingly jumped the final hurdle.
‘This is a significant moment for the ship which will see us operate with fighter jets, helicopters, drones, and other vessel. We’ll achieve all of this by working with our friends and colleagues from the RAF, the British Army and across Defence to deliver our contribution for the UK as a problem-solving, burden-sharing partner nation.
‘The whole Prince of Wales team are grateful for the support of our followers, our families and our friends and hope that they keep following us towards our first deployment.’
It marks the end of a ‘challenging’ journey for the £6bn warship and her 700-plus crew, according to the carrier’s senior warfare officer Lieutenant Commander David Thompson.
He added: ‘HMS Prince of Wales is at the end of a challenging yet successful journey on the road to operational readiness. We are prepared to support Commander UK Strike Forces and are relishing the opportunity to work alongside other allied nations.’
It means that the UK now has two fully operation aircraft carriers, equal to the Chinese and Italian fleets, with only the United States having more, with a total of 11.
Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is completing a global tour that has seen her sail through the contested waters in the South China Sea.
HMS Prince of Wales is due to return to Portsmouth in the small hours of Saturday to avoid bad weather forecast over the coming days.