Britain’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales has hit top speed as she tested her engines to the max in the North Sea.
During the full power trial, the carrier thundered through the sea at 25 knots as her diesel generators and gas turbines were pushed to full throttle. And it required another two miles of clear sea to bring the 280-metre-long aircraft carrier to a stop again – such is the momentum generated by the engines running flat out.
It took almost all the 109 Megawatts of power the six engines generate to propel the 65,000-tonne warship along at full speed. This power is enough to meet the needs of a city the size of the carrier’s home of Portsmouth.
The new milestone came as the vessel is in her second week of trials.
The carrier is powered by four diesel generators and two gas turbines, run by the 170-strong marine engineering department – one third the size of the equivalent department on the Navy’s last conventional carrier, HMS Ark Royal, which left service 40 years ago.
The Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) onboard the vessel monitors and operates the generation, propulsion and fluid systems that provide the ship’s company of up to 1,600 people with the ‘hotel services’ (fresh/hot/cold water, electricity, air-conditioning, sewage and rubbish systems) as well as powering the engines, sensors and weapons systems on the UK’s most advanced warship.
The ship is building on the experience of her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth, currently in the USA for F-35 Lightning jet trials, plus extensive training on simulators ashore and on board and tests throughout her nine-week period of trials in the North Sea.
Aside from more than 600 sailors, led by Commanding Officer Captain Darren Houston, there are around 400 civilian contractors to bring the engineering systems, radars, communications and essential systems to full working order before the vessel is officially handed over to the Royal Navy in December. The initial focus is on the ship’s engineering/propulsion systems, hence the speed trial.
HMS Prince of Wales continues her trials throughout the autumn – with short breaks planned in Invergordon to take on fresh supplies – before making her debut in Portsmouth, followed by formal commissioning in December.