Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales leaves Portsmouth to take part in Europe's largest military exercise Joint Warrior for the first time

After a brief return to Portsmouth, the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is on her way to the Scottish coast to take part in the Europe’s largest military exercise for the first time.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 2:03 pm

The £3bn warship left the city on Sunday to take part in Joint Warrior, a bi-annual event involves all three British armed forces and forces from several other NATO members.

The latest exercise will see HMS Prince of Wales test her F-35B Lightning stealth fighters and four Merlin helicopters – the first time a fast-jet and helicopter air group has operated side-by-side from her deck and a ‘step change in complexity’ for those serving on board, according to the carrier’s commander, Captain Steve Higham.

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HMS Prince of Wales pictured previously departing Portsmouth Naval Base. Photo: Paul Currie

Captain Higham said: ‘During our previous period of generation, we were able to test the procedures, equipment and most importantly our people in preparation for future Carrier Strike operations. Many lessons were learnt and will be taken forward.

‘Although the Royal Navy wrote the book on carrier aviation, advances in aircraft and equipment means we are always actively learning, and Prince of Wales remains focused on continually improving and developing capability.’

The carrier’s sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, took part in the last Joint Warrior exercise off the Scottish coast in May, joining warships from Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is undertaking a global tour, with her crew recently staging an explosive gunnery tests near the US territory of Guam, and she remains in ‘constant communication’ with HMS Prince of Wales.

Captain Higham added: ‘HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth are in constant communication to ensure that any lessons identified by either ship are capitalised upon,

‘Both ships’ companies strive to ensure commonality of standard operating procedures for the safe and efficient conduct of aviation at sea, and any changes in Prince of Wales’ approach to generating for operations will be as a result of this continuous collaboration at all levels.’

The Joint Warrior exercise held last October saw eleven nations take part, contributing 28 warships, two submarines, 81 aircraft and more than 6000 military personnel.

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