Home NEWS Britain’s new £3,100,000,000 aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales docks for first...

Britain’s new £3,100,000,000 aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales docks for first time

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Thousands of people lined the sea walls to welcome home Britain’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, as it sailed into its Portsmouth harbour base for the first time.

Two Hawk jets and a Wildcat helicopter marked the warship’s arrival with a ceremonial fly-by as the 65,000-tonne vessel dwarfed surrounding buildings.

Shipping lanes were closed and an air exclusion zone enforced as part of security measures for the ceremony.

Sailors took to the flight deck as the £3.1 billion carrier approached the dedicated Princess Royal jetty.

Commanding officer Captain Darren Houston 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.

‘I am extremely proud of them and their families for their perseverance, patience and extraordinary efforts.’

The ship has a 600-strong crew on board along with 300 contractors, Air engineering technician Ben Daniels is one of them.

He said: ‘I feel immensely proud to be a member of HMS Prince of Wales’s ship’s company while the ship is heading into its home port for the first time.

‘It is a historic moment for the Royal Navy and I am looking forward to many years of service on this incredible ship.’

The carrier left Rosyth dockyard in Fife, eastern Scotland, in September before undergoing eight weeks of sea trials ahead of its arrival.

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

‘Following a brief pit stop in Invergordon (northern Scotland), HMS Prince of Wales was tested in heavier seas to see how she handles in challenging weather.

‘The carrier faced waves up to 20ft high and carved through them relatively untroubled.’

Its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, also based at Portsmouth, is currently on a visit to the USA to undergo trials of the F35 Lightning jet fighters ahead of its first operational deployment planned for 2021.

The berths in Portsmouth have undergone major upgrade work to allow both mega ships to be based in the historic naval city.

The 280-metre long carriers will be expected to be in service for 50 years and were built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnership between BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence.

In all six UK shipyards – Appledore, Birkenhead, Govan, Portsmouth, Rosyth and Tyne – were involved in constructing the carriers.

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

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