HMS Prince of Wales to Sail into Her Portsmouth Homeport for First Time

The UK Royal Navy’ssecond Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales (R09) will sail into her homeport of Portsmouth for the first time today.

The newest of Britain’s carriers is expected to be greeted by thousands of people lining Portsmouth’s seafront when she sails into the Solent this afternoon.

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.

During the trials, the first aircraft touched down on the flight deck, as a Merlin helicopter was guided safely in to land before the ship then hit top speed as she tested her engines to the max.

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.

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