The UK Royal Navy Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales (R09) sailed into her homeport of Portsmouth for the first time on Nov. 16.
Hundreds of people lined the seafront to welcome the newest of Britain’s aircraft carriers. Sailors stood atop the flight deck of the enormous carrier – the second of the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy – as she sailed into Portsmouth Harbour.
Captain Darren Houston, the Commanding Officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said: “Our first entry to Portsmouth represents the successful culmination of the build and sea trials period in which my ship’s company and industry partners have worked so closely together to bring HMS Prince of Wales into service with the fleet.
This marks the second time in two years the city has welcomed one of the UK’s new carriers, following HMS Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in August 2017. HMS Prince of Wales’s arrival means Portsmouth Naval Base is now home to two aircraft carriers.
The yard has been modernized to accommodate the two behemoths, with £30 million spent on strengthening and upgrading the base’s Victory Jetty.
HMS Prince of Wales sailed from Rosyth Dockyard in late September eight years after she was laid down. When she sailed beneath the iconic Forth crossings – lowering her main mast to do so – it meant the two largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy were at sea simultaneously, with HMS Queen Elizabeth currently off the east coast of the USA testing her F-35 Lightning fighter jets.
When she left Rosyth, a mixed ship’s company of Royal Navy sailors (600-plus) and around 300 civilian contractors were on board the carrier to take her through eight weeks of trials in the North Sea. Since that moment in September, the milestones have been racking up before her arrival in the Solent today.
Following a brief pit stop in Invergordon, HMS Prince of Wales was tested in heavier seas to see how she handles in challenging weather. The carrier faced Sea State 6 (waves up to 20ft high) and carved through them relatively untroubled. Most recently, she carried out tests on her flight deck to ensure she can now host aircraft permanently on board.
HMS Prince of Wales will be formally commissioned before the end of the year.