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UK Royal Navy commissions HMS Prince of Wales

Photo: Royal Navy

HMS Prince of Wales, the second of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers, has been commissioned into the fleet as the largest warship ever built for the nation.

The ceremony was attended by members of the Royal Family The Duchess of Cornwall served as the ship’s lady sponsor.

Commanding Officer, Captain Darren Houston, read the commissioning warrant to the crew and guests gathered in the hangar which will soon house F-35 jets and a variety of helicopters.

Among those watching were the First Sea Lord, Admiral Tony Radakin, ambassadors from France and USA, and the commander of the US Sixth Fleet, Vice Admiral Lisa Franchetti.

The iconic White Ensign then replaced the Blue Ensign which has flown since she left Rosyth in September for her initial sea trials.

HMS Prince of Wales, which by naval tradition will be referred to in the feminine form despite carrying the title of the male heir apparent, is marginally larger and heavier than her sister.

The carrier is powered by four diesel engines and two gas turbines, run by the 170-strong marine engineering department. They are part of a core ship’s company of about 700 which can swell to more than double that with the addition of personnel from Naval Air Squadrons and Royal Marines.

She departed Rosyth in September and conducted her first sea trials before making her first entry to Portsmouth harbour in mid-November.

More than 10,000 people across the UK have contributed to the delivery of the ship as part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, building on the experience they gained in constructing and operating HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has recently returned from her second deployment to the east coast of North America conducting aviation trials with UK F-35 jets and developing her warfighting capabilities. Both carriers are alongside in Portsmouth for routine maintenance and well-earned Christmas leave for their crews before resuming their programs to reach operational capability.

The two Queen-class aircraft carriers were in Portsmouth together for the first time ever on December 4. Photo: Royal Navy