The UK Royal Navy will formally commission its newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales (R09), during a ceremony aboard the vessel at Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth today, Dec. 10.
The day also marks the 78th anniversary of the sinking of her predecessor, the King George V-class battleship HMS Prince of Wales (53), which was lost in action alongside HMS Repulse in 1941.
The commissioning ceremony will be attended by the ship’s namesake Prince Charles, the current Prince of Wales. He will be accompanied by his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who is also the ship’s lady sponsor.
Captain Darren Houston, commanding officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said: “We are extremely honoured to host the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at our commissioning ceremony.
HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy. Once commissioned, she will be the largest vessel to be operated by the service as she is slightly larger and heavier than her sister ship and lead ship of the class, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).
The vessel is the seventh Royal Navy ship to have the name HMS Prince of Wales.
The 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier sailed into her home port of Portsmouth Naval Base for the first time on Nov. 16 followed by her sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth on Dec. 4.
Unlike most large aircraft carriers, Queen Elizabeth-class carriers are not fitted with catapults and arrestor wires, and is instead designed to operate V/STOL (vertical and/or short take-off and landing) aircraft; the ship is currently planned to carry up to 40 F-35B Lightning II stealth multirole fighters and Merlin helicopters for airborne early warning (AEW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.
Construction of the ship began in 2011 at Rosyth Dockyard and ended with the launch on 21 December 2017. She will be fully ready for front-line duties around the globe from 2023.