The UK’s second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has been declared fully operational after completing a fortnight-long international exercise off the coast of Scotland.
The milestone also marks the official completion of its two years of intensive training. It is now fit and ready to carry out duties around the world along with HMS Queen Elizabeth.
HMS Prince of Wales commanding officer captain Steve Higham said: “We have excitingly jumped the final hurdle and are now a fully-fledged strike carrier, ready at 30 days’ notice for operations around the globe.
“This is a significant moment for the ship, which will see us operate with fighter jets, helicopters, drones, and other vessel.
“We’ll achieve all of this by working with our friends and colleagues from the RAF, the British Army, and across defence to deliver our contribution for the UK as a problem-solving, burden-sharing partner nation.
“The whole Prince of Wales team are grateful for the support of our followers, our families and our friends and hope that they keep following us towards our first deployment.”
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HMS Prince of Wales recently spent five days at sea following intensive training around the UK, including the embarkation of F-35 Lightning stealth fighters for the first time aboard the aircraft carrier.
According to the UK Navy, the final act of the new aircraft carrier’s operational preparation was participation in the largest military exercise recently hosted in the UK this autumn.
The UK/Nato Joint Warrior/Dynamic Mariner exercise involved participation of thousands of military work force from a dozen nations.
HMS Prince of Wales has a flight deck that is big enough to accommodate three football pitches and can receive up to 36 F-35B aircraft.
It carries a crew of around 1,600 personnel when aircraft are onboard.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently starting the second half of her maiden deployment commanding an international carrier strike group (CSG) in the Pacific.