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HMS Prince of Wales second aircraft carrier of British Navy is declared fully operational.

| 2021

According to information published by the British Royal Navy on October 1, 2021, after two years of intensive training for the second British Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, the ship is now declared fully operational and ready for international deployment and missions.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001British Royal Navy HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier has made her first overseas port visit with a short stop in Gibraltar in June 2021. (Picture source British Royal Navy)

This goal was achieved thanks to the crew of HMS Prince of Wales as well as the British Royal Navy and RAF (Royal air Force) squadrons who will operate aircraft from her flight deck – including the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning stealth fighter – and thousands of military personnel and civilians who support and maintain the endeavor.

It means HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier can join her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth on the world stage; the latter is currently beginning the second half of her maiden deployment commanding an international carrier strike group in the Pacific.

The final act of the new carrier’s preparation for operations was participation in the largest military exercise hosted in the UK this autumn.

Thousands of military personnel from a dozen nations took part in the combined UK/NATO exercise Joint Warrior/Dynamic Mariner which ended yesterday, testing their abilities individually and collectively to deal with global events.

More than 20 warships and submarines, plus maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters and thousands of military personnel from a dozen nations are taking part in the fortnight-long combined exercise.

Ten Royal Navy vessels, plus elements of four Fleet Air Arm squadrons (troop carrying and submarine-hunting Merlins, Commando and anti-surface Wildcats and Hawk jets which have decamped from Cornwall to Scotland), Royal Marines of 3 Commando Brigade and the guns of their supporting artillery regiment, 29 Commando RA, plus senior staffs – around 2,000 men and women in all – represented the Senior Service.

Prince of Wales and amphibious flagship HMS Albion led the RN participation, joined by frigates HMS Argyll and Lancaster - the latter fresh from operations in the Arctic - tanker RFA Tiderace, support ship RFA Mounts Bay, minehunter HMS Pembroke and a smattering of P2000 patrol craft.

HMS Prince of Wales second aircraft carrier of British Navy is declared fully operational 925 002
HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier is able to carry up to 36 F-35 Lightning II's fighter aircraft and 14 helicopters. (Picture source British Royal Navy)

Besides validating HMS Prince of Wales operationally, Joint Warrior has been used to refine the ongoing transformation of the Royal Marines into the Future Commando Force, able to rapidly deploy raiding forces when needed.

The HMS Prince of Wales (R09) is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier which is now in service with the British Royal Navy. Construction of the aircraft carrier began in 2011 at Rosyth Dockyard and ended with the launch on 21 December 2017. The completed Prince of Wales began sea trials in September 2019 and first arrived at her new home base of HMNB Portsmouth in November 2019. The ship was formally commissioned into the Royal Navy at a ceremony in Portsmouth on 10 December 2019. She was declared fully operational in October 1, 2021.

The HMS Prince of Wales has a length of 280m, a beam of 39m, a draught of 11m, and a displacement of 65,000 tons. She is powered by two Rolls-Royce Marine 36MW MT30 gas turbine alternators, providing over 70MW, and four diesel engines, providing approximately 40MW. The ship can reach a top speed of 25 knots (46 km/h) with a maximum cruising range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km)

As the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the HMS Prince of Wales is designed to carry forty aircraft, a maximum of 36 F-35B Lightning II stealth multirole fighters and four Merlin helicopters. The hangars are designed for CH-47 Chinook operations without blade folding and for the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, whilst the aircraft lifts can accommodate two Chinooks with unfolded blades. She has 9 decks below the flight deck.

For its self-protection, the HMS Prince of Wales is armed with three Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon Station), four 30mm remotely operated DS30M Mk2 automatic cannons, and six Miniguns.

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