Home Europe Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier arrives at its homeport for first time

Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier arrives at its homeport for first time

Photo: Royal Navy

HMS Prince of Wales, the second of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers, arrived at her homeport of Portsmouth for the first time on Saturday.

It is 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.

“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,” Captain Darren Houston, the commanding officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said.

The carrier sailed from Rosyth, where she was assembled, in late September with a mixed ship’s company of Royal Navy sailors (600-plus) and around 300 civilian contractors on board to take her through an autumn of trials in the North Sea.

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.

HMS Prince of Wales. Photo: Royal Navy

HMS Prince of Wales’s arrival means Portsmouth Naval Base is now home to two aircraft carriers.

The yard has been modernised to accommodate the two 65,000-ton ships, with £30 million spent on strengthening and upgrading the base’s Victory Jetty.

HMS Prince of Wales will be formally commissioned before the end of the year.