Amidst the backdrop of escalating global tensions, HMS Prince of Wales, Britain’s aircraft carrier, has embarked on a mission to lead a multinational task group in Norway.

The ship’s company, based in Portsmouth, prepared for its role in the largest NATO exercise since the Cold War.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps commended the dedication and prowess of the crew, “I would like to congratulate the crew of HMS Prince of Wales for their hard work and dedication in rapidly preparing the ship for departure. The ability to deploy hundreds of crew to make ready one of the world’s most complex aircraft carriers within a week is testament to the skill and ability of the Royal Navy.”

Logistics Officer Lieutenant Commander Chris Barnett detailed the herculean task of stocking the carrier with essential supplies, “In less than a week, we have brought onboard approximately 70,000 sailors days rations – £400,000 of food – with 450 pallets of stores and 30,000 toilet rolls; not to mention spare parts for F-35 Lightnings, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, cold weather kit, and medical stores. It has been an amazing effort from all involved.”

In 2021, three Apache helicopters completed a two-week training programme on the British Royal Navy’s HMS Prince of Wales, part of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier fleet. 

In 2022, HMS Prince of Wales, the UK Royal Navy’s second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, embarked on a mission to lead NATO’s Maritime High Readiness Force in the Arctic. HMS Prince of Wales has a 70 metre (m) wide and 280m long flight deck capable of accommodating 36 F-35B aircraft and four Merlin helicopters.

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HMS Prince of Wales assumes the mantle from its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, showcasing the Royal Navy’s transition in fulfilling its operational commitments. As part of a carrier strike group comprising eight ships, including British, US, Spanish, and Danish vessels, the aircraft carrier will play a role in Steadfast Defender.

Commodore James Blackmore, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, lauded the collective effort that enabled the swift deployment of HMS Prince of Wales, “That myself and my battlestaff are now afloat in an aircraft carrier that was preparing for a substantial maintenance package just seven days ago is a remarkable achievement and a tribute to the professionalism, commitment, and good humour of all involved.”

As the carrier undergoes training in the North Sea before joining Exercise Nordic Response, the focus remains on safeguarding the Nordic nations from potential threats. With a commitment to collective deterrence and defence, the UK supports Nato and the Euro-Atlantic region.

In the face of evolving security challenges, HMS Prince of Wales leads the charge in one of the most significant military exercises of the modern era.