HMS Prince of Wales (R09)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Prince of Wales.
Construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth MOD 45157272.jpg
Bow bulb of HMS Prince of Wales at Rosyth, May 2014
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Prince of Wales
Namesake: Prince of Wales
Ordered: 20 May 2008
Laid down: 26 May 2011[1]
Launched: 2017 (planned)
Commissioned: 2020[2] (planned)
Homeport: HMNB Portsmouth
Motto: Ich Dien ("I Serve")
Status: Under Construction[3]
Badge: HMS Prince of Wales ships crest.JPG
General characteristics
Class & type: Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier
Displacement: 65,000 tonnes (64,000 long tons; 72,000 short tons)[4]
Length: 280 m (920 ft)[5]
  • 39 m (128 ft)(waterline)
  • 73 m (240 ft) overall
Draught: 11 metres[6]
Decks: 16,000 square metres
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h)
Range: 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km)
Capacity: 1,600
Troops: 250
Complement: 679
Sensors and
processing systems:
Aircraft carried:
Aviation facilities: Hangar below deck and two aircraft lifts.

HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier under construction for the Royal Navy, with plans for active service from 2020. She is the eighth Royal Navy ship to have the title HMS Prince of Wales. Construction of the ship began in 2011 at Rosyth Dockyard.

Unlike most large carriers she is not fitted with catapults and arrestor wires and is instead designed to operate V/STOL aircraft; the ship will carry up to 40 F-35B Lightning II fighter-bombers; and Merlin helicopters for airborne early warning and anti-submarine warfare. The design emphasises flexibility, with accommodation for 250 Royal Marines and the ability to support them with attack helicopters and troop transports up to Chinook size and larger.[9]

During the 2014 NATO summit, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that Prince of Wales will be brought into service, contrary to proposals in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.[10]

Prince of Wales is set to be handed over to the RN in 2019 and be fully ready for front-line duties around the globe from 2023.[11]

Design and construction[edit]

Prince of Wales under construction at Rosyth Dockyard in December 2014.
The bow section of Prince of Wales in December 2014.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are unique among world aircraft carriers in having two islands, the forward one housing the main bridge for ship control and the aft island is for air control.

The original 2008 design envisaged flying Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) jets from a ski-jump ramp. The 2010 SDSR called for the UK to buy conventional take-off F-35C jets and to convert Prince of Wales to a CATOBAR configuration, but this proved too expensive. So in May 2012 the Government announced that the (STOVL) F-35B variant would be purchased instead and the carrier will now be completed with a "ski-jump".[12]

The Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010 declared that the UK needed only one carrier, but penalty clauses in the contract meant that cancelling the second vessel was more expensive than building it. So the SDSR directed that the second carrier should be built and then either mothballed or sold.[13] More recently the RN's 2012/13 yearbook stated "both carriers are likely to be commissioned and may even be capable of operating together".[14] It was announced in 2014 that the carrier will be brought into service rather than sold off or mothballed.[15] Under current plans Prince of Wales will be commissioned in 2020.[2]

At a press conference on 5 September 2014, following the NATO summit in Wales, the Prime Minister announced that HMS Prince of Wales will be brought into service alongside HMS Queen Elizabeth, ending years of uncertainty surrounding the future of the second carrier.[16]

The Prince of Wales is being assembled at Rosyth from 52 blocks built by six shipyards around the UK. Construction began on 26 May 2011 with the first steel being cut at Govan shipyard by Dr Liam Fox.[1]

Armament and aircraft[edit]

The Queen Elizabeth class can carry up to 40 Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II multirole jets, but a more likely airwing is 12 or 24 F-35B and a helicopter group of anti-submarine AW101 Merlins and troop transport helicopters.


The bow section of Prince of Wales is delivered to Rosyth in May 2014; the ship's sister Queen Elizabeth is in the dry dock behind

The Queen Elizabeth-class carrier will be the eighth HMS Prince of Wales, named after the title traditionally granted to the heir apparent of the British monarch. The name was announced at the same time as sister ship Queen Elizabeth. Controversy over the decommissioning of HMS Ark Royal under the terms of the SDSR in 2010, and the subsequent loss of the name Ark Royal led to a campaign for one of the new aircraft carriers to receive it. In May 2011, reports surfaced that HRH The Prince of Wales had been approached by a senior Royal Navy officer on the subject of changing the name of Prince of Wales to Ark Royal, a matter that the Prince of Wales was reportedly "pretty relaxed" about.[17]


Once in service the ship will be officially affiliated with the city of Liverpool.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Steel cut on second super-carrier". Navy News. 
  2. ^ a b Maddox, David (23 March 2013). "600 Royal Navy personnel may be stationed at Rosyth". The Scotsman. 
  3. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 21 Nov 2011". HM Government. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Harris, Stephen (27 May 2014). "Your questions answered: HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier". The Engineer. 
  5. ^ "Queen Elizabeth Class". Royal Navy. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF)". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 21 May 2008. 
  7. ^ "Queen Elizabeth class: facts and figures". Royal Navy. 
  8. ^ "Fleet Air Arm: future aircraft". Royal Navy. 
  9. ^ "Portsmouth Naval Base facts". Royal Navy. Archived from the original on February 24, 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2008. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Iconic structure is installed on HMS Prince of Wales". 
  12. ^ "Defence Secretary Announces Decision on Jets for Navy’s Future Carriers". Royal Navy. May 10, 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  13. ^ Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review (pdf), HM Government, October 2010, p. 23, ISBN 9780101794824 
  14. ^ "A Global Force 2012/13" (pdf). Royal Navy. 2013. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-906940-75-1. 
  15. ^ "UK aircraft carrier Prince of Wales to go into service". BBC News. 5 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  16. ^ BBC News UK aircraft carrier Prince of Wales to go into service 5 September 2014
  17. ^ Harding, T (2 May 2011). "Prince Charles 'saves Ark Royal’". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 

External links[edit]