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Celebrations as HMS Prince of Wales is commissioned into the Fleet

posted on December 12, 2019 categories Project News

HMS Prince of Wales, one of the most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK, has been commissioned into the Fleet during a ceremony at HM Naval Base Portsmouth.

Tuesday’s event was presided over by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, as the ship’s Lady Sponsor, alongside HRH The Prince of Wales. An audience of more than 2,000 industry representatives, allies, friends and family members were also in attendance to watch the iconic White Ensign raised on the ship’s deck.

The UK’s newest aircraft carrier arrives in Portsmouth. By AET Godfrey. ©UK Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, 2019

HRH The Prince of Wales taking the Royal salute alongside HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. By Belinda Jane Alker. ©UK Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, 2019

Cammell Laird is proud to have played a key role in the construction of this magnificent vessel as part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance. The Merseyside shipbuilder successfully completed nine units for the first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, and its block building expertise were called upon once again in 2013 when it was tasked with fabricating and outfitting six units for HMS Prince of Wales. Construction of the blocks began in July and involved a workforce of 250 people, including contractors.

The project made full use of Cammell Laird’s state-of-the-art facilities on the River Mersey in Birkenhead. The site is home to one of the largest and best-equipped modular construction halls in Europe – a building that is ideally suited to complex steel structure fabrication projects as it allows complete hulls or project-specific modules to be built without environmental interference.

The first two centre blocks for HMS Prince of Wales were completed in autumn 2014. Known as CB02 Ring F and Ring G, these blocks were 40 metres wide, 15 metres deep and 10 metres tall. They weighed 942 tonnes and 642 tonnes respectively. After being moved to Cammell Laird’s non-tidal wet basin and loaded onto a large ocean-going barge, the units were transported to the Rosyth shipyard in Scotland where the carrier was assembled. Work on the additional four blocks was completed the following year.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier project required exceptionally advanced levels of engineering, particularly in welding technology. The work showcased the depth of the workforce’s skills and expertise in fabrication, steel and pipe work, as well as Cammell Laird’s ability to manufacture large modules for the maritime, offshore and nuclear sectors.

Prince of Wales sections being towed up down the Mersey en route to Rosyth.

In total, more than 10,000 people across the UK have contributed to the delivery of HMS Prince of Wales as part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, building on the experience they gained in constructing and operating HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Commanding Officer Captain Darren Houston said: “As we lower the Blue Ensign and raise the White Ensign, this day marks the culmination of over a decade of work by the country’s maritime and ship-building industry who have come together with the Ministry of Defence to deliver this magnificent ship through the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.”

Both carriers are now moored in Portsmouth for routine maintenance and well-earned Christmas leave for their crews before resuming their programmes to reach operational capability.

The White Ensign is raised onboard HMS Prince of Wales for the first time during her commissioning. By Dan Shepherd. ©UK Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, 2019