Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier to be commissioned in Portsmouth today on 78th anniversary of last HMS Prince of Wales

THE Royal Navy will today welcome HMS Prince of Wales into the fleet – exactly 78 years to the day since the last ship bearing that name was sunk.

Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 10th December 2019, 6:05 am
HMS Prince of Wales sailing into Portsmouth for the first time. Photo: AET Godfrey.

The mighty 65,000-tonne warship is the second of two new aircraft carriers built for the Senior Service, after HMS Queen Elizabeth.

A commissioning ceremony, due to be attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, will take place inside the ship’s huge hangar.

The service will see the ship formally being handed over from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance to the Royal Navy to begin her 50-year naval career.

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HMS Prince of Wales which was sunk during the Second World War. The new HMS Prince of Wales is to be commissioned into the navy on the 78th anniversary of the tragedy. Picture : Habibur Rahman

It comes on the anniversary of the destruction of the last Prince of Wales, a battleship which was sunk by a Japanese torpedo on December 10, 1941.

Among those killed in the tragedy was Petty Officer Stoker Nelson Victor Golledge. The 50-year-old had been working in the ship’s engine room when it exploded.

Portsmouth Naval Base worker Cliff Golledge, PO Golledge’s first cousin three times removed, has been working on the aircraft carrier project with BAE Systems for 10 years and has now told of his pride.

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Cliff Golledge, who works for BAE Systems in Portsmouth, has been part of the team helping to support HMS Prince of Wales and her sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The 57-year-old added he only made the discovery about his long-lost relative’s demise after his father’s death earlier this year. Before then, he had had no idea of his previous link to HMS Prince of Wales.

The dad-of-two from Portsmouth said: ‘To find out not only your family roots with the navy and Portsmouth go so far back and that my ancestors worked and died on the previous HMS Prince of Wales, well it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. My dad would have been so proud.

‘As one of thousands who worked with this present ships construction and now with her daily, it’s an honour knowing the connection of ship with family, on finding this association it was like being struck by a bolt of lightning.’

PO Golledge grew up in Somerset and joined the Royal Navy in Portsmouth in 1910, serving during the Battle of Jutland in the First World War on HMS Gloucester.

An image inside HMS Prince of Wales during the Second World War, with Petty Officer Stoker Nelson Victor Golledge believed to be pictured far right.

He left the navy in 1932 before then signing back up during the outbreak of the Second World War.

He was among the 840 people to die when HMS Prince of Wales and cruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by Japanese torpedo bombers off the coast of Malaya.

The latest Prince of Wales is the second of two aircraft carriers, worth a combined £6.2bn.

The vessels are the largest and most powerful ever built for the Royal Navy and have been designed from the keel up to operate the new F-35B stealth jet.