“Better late than never,” could be the new (but totally unofficial) motto of the Royal Navy’s HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier. After a lengthy repair on Britain’s largest warship, the £3.2 aircraft carrier finally arrived in U.S. waters and will begin to prepare for joint exercises with the United States Navy.
Thanks to the efforts of the ship’s navigator and meteorologists, she successfully “evaded” the autumn storms that swirled on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.
The carrier left UK waters earlier this month after drone trials off Cornwall, while the ship’s crew used the ten-day passage to train and hone skills, including the flight deck operations, firefighting/crash exercises, the moving of Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, and refueling, as well as sea boat ops, quick draw self-defense exercises.
F-35 Training and More
HMS Prince of Wales is now gearing up for autumn of trials off the coast of the United States and is ready to support F-35 Lightning jet operations. The vessel is ready to embark the equipment, supplies, and stores vital to the first stage of three trial periods involving crewed and uncrewed aircraft.
According to the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), following the trials with F-35 jets, there will be additional airborne drills including maiden trials with a Mojove drone, which will be the Royal Navy’s first foray into armed, uncrewed aircraft.
The Queen Elizabeth-class carrier will also team up with the U.S. Marine Corps to host the MV-22 Osprey – the multi-engine, dual-piloted, tilt-rotor aircraft that can take off, hover, and land like a helicopter but which can also rotate its propellers to a horizontal position and fly like an airplane.
Back in Service
The Royal Navy is likely hoping to move past the last year, which saw the carrier sidelined after she broke down off the Isle of Wight just one day after departing from Portsmouth to begin a planned four-month deployment to the United States. Divers were even called in to inspect the hull of the 930-foot-long flattop after damage was reported to the starboard propeller shaft.
The 65,000-ton warship had to be towed to Rosyth, Scotland, for repairs, which reportedly cost the UK taxpayers upwards of £25 million ($30.5 million USD). One reason for the sky-high repair bill was that an inspection identified a problem with the Prince of Wales’ port shaft, and Royal Navy officials have decided to overhaul that one as well.
The carrier’s return to service was further delayed due to the availability of parts – which highlighted troubles the Royal Navy could face in a major crisis.
It was a major embarrassment for the UK’s senior service, as the breakdown came just months after HMS Prince of Wales took on the duties of NATO flagship. As previously reported, it was also a headache for the UK’s ruling Conservative government as it gave ammunition to Labour’s shadow cabinet – which took aim at the slow pace of the progress.
“At a time when threats are rising, we need our Navy’s ships at sea keeping us safe, not stuck in dock for repeated repairs,” John Healey, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said earlier this year.
However, HMS Prince of Wales is back in service and ready to prove that it is the finest the Royal Navy has to offer. That shouldn’t be too tall of an order.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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