The Government have again confirmed that aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales will enter Royal Navy service.

Kevan Jones, Member of Parliament for North Durham, asked in a written Parliamentary question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the HMS Prince of Wales will be placed into the service of the Royal Navy.”

Stuart Andrew, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, replied:

“Yes. HMS PRINCE OF WALES is structurally complete and on current plans will commence contractor sea trials in late 2019. Her first entry to Portsmouth will take place during those sea trials and her commissioning into the Royal Navy will follow their completion. Both of these dates have yet to be determined.”

In 2010, the British government announced that Prince of Wales would be either sold or mothballed due to budget cuts. However, in 2014 during the NATO Summit in Wales, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the aircraft carrier would be brought into active service.

This commitment was later reaffirmed in the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 in November 2015 and is often repeated when rumours appear that the vessel may be sold.

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Mark Franks
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Mark Franks

I’m sorry but I just find it hard to believe that we will end up with 2 capital ships in service with the Royal Navy. How after all can you trust in our politicians, bean counters and the top brass who seem to appease the establishment who offer so much with words but deliver zilch.
The UK has to be pragmatic in what sort of defence we actually need and then Taylor our requirements accordingly.

Yes we need carrier battle groups properly equipt and funded.

Gunbuster
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Gunbuster

Small point….
Both LPDs are classed as Capital Ships as was Ocean when she was in service.

Mark Franks
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Mark Franks

Both LpdS were under threat and ocean has gone. Both types highly capable proven assets but it hasn’t stopped the powers that be from asset stripping our current capabilities.

Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

Mark,
If they are delivering zilch where did all the kit we now have come from?
Like it or not the politicians, bean counters and top brass are the establishment. They can’t appease themselves.
We have been through bad times defence wise but I do believe that Gavin Williamson and now Penny Mordant are doing their best.
If we are going to have a pop at politicians let,s make sure they are the ones who deserve it.

Mark Franks
Guest
Mark Franks

I understand where you are coming from. Yes we had the previous secretary of Defence shouting from the roof tops but the last 15 years has seen a massive reduction in our capabilities across the board. We will continue to see an all ready overstretched budget miss managed on future projects which will result in current and might I say paid for assets sacrificed to make up the shortfall. The carriers will become a plumb target.

maurice10
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maurice10

There is an inevitability that at some stage the question of running two carriers will become a political football. Most parties support defence but some to a lesser extent than others. If the UK suffers a recession following Brexit, POW could find its trial period extended in order to save some money? The danger period may follow after five years or so if the recruitment crisis worsens. In such a scenario, one vessel could end up in extended readiness?

Chris H
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Chris H

@ maurice10 – ” If the UK suffers a recession following Brexit” Or alternatively of course: “When the UK experiences better growth following Brexit” Given we have had forecasts by myriad experts of a plague of Locusts, WWIII, endless recessions and emergency budgets simply because we voted to Leave and yet we are still growing faster than the EU or the Eurozone ‘despite Brexit’ I suspect we will do rather well. And as for recruitment aren’t the Andrew also doing ‘rather well’? In contrast to the RAF, and the Army in particular, the RN has managed to reverse the decline… Read more »

maurice10
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maurice10

The reality will be soon upon us one way or the other? However, you know as well as I do, defence is always a political football regardless of the fiscal truth.

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

@ Chris H I wonder if the government has considered for one moment using the QE class for delivering aid in peacetime (more helicopters) and F-35’s at a time of conflict?

That would leave the option of funding the operations of both carriers and other ships in the fleet from both the defence budget and the foreign aid budget.

We need to start thinking smarter when it comes to defence!

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@Nigel Collins – I believe that use has already been established by the Government and hasn’t the current DefSec already said (while in her previous post) that UK International Aid should fund MoD costs when being deployed on Humanitarian Aid. And I believe that the QE had some 800 tons(?) of disaster relief kit loaded before she sailed on westlant18 in case it was needed after the huge storms even she had to sail around….

Nigel Collins
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Nigel Collins

In which case, we should have ample funding for both carriers given the £17 Billion’ish we currently allocate to the foreign aid budget.

I believe Nigel Farage suggested a sum of £6 Billion should be diverted back to the UK purse some years ago?

What with that, plus the £12 Billion, which will flow back to us annually after Brexit, we will be in a far better position to make the necessary adjustments and increase our defence spending.

As for the potential £40+ Billion if we leave with no deal….

Chris H
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Chris H

@Nigel Collins – without getting into Brexit itself (which I hugely support) on the finances you mentioned we are both on the same page …

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Likewise, I’ve never quite understood how we could be worse off with “No Deal” given that 90% of trade is conducted under WTO terms already.

But more importantly, if we bolstered our defence capability Europe would be very foolish to make an enemy of the UK.

We hold all the cards but seem to be playing our hand rather badly!

desertstu
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desertstu

57% of our exports and 66% of our imports are handled as part of the EU or on the back of a trade agreement.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@Nigel Collins – well when you have a Remainer PM who is advised by a Remainer Establishment, aided by a Remainer Parliament in defiance of the wishes of the Electorate that put the MPs there and the ‘deal’ is negotiated by one Ollie Robbins then there is no doubt in my mind we would have lost a game of Poker holding a Royal Flush. Our ‘negotiators’ were led by the nose by the EU complete with a clause that would have kept us locked into the EU until THEY said we could leave. A ‘deal’ is preferable but we only… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

Roll on Farage and the Brexit party, someone who still believes we can make the UK masters of our own destiny once again!

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Nigel Collins – According to Channel 4 I must be a Russian because I have paid my £25 as a Brexit Party supporter.
What Farage has achieved this year has been pretty damned impressive and he is itching for a General Election

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

The best £25 quid I’ve spent this year!

A General Election in the Autumn maybe the only option available to secure Brexit.

As you touched upon in your previous comments, the next choice for PM is going to find it equally difficult to break the impasse and achieve a negotiated Brexit.

Let’s hope Farage and his team are ready in time.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@Nigel Collins – well he fielded 7 candidates in every region bar NI for the EU Elections and did it less than 4 weeks. And then won by a country mile!
He has already got 100 of the 650 needed for a UK General Election (out of 3,000 applicants!).
Its really quite a major change in UK politics – as he says the old 2 party system is dead especially as Labour becomes Remain Central

Julian1
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Julian1

That’s funny since I read that growth has completely stopped. Not sure we’re doing so well…

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Julian1 – I think you misread whatever it was then. The latest UK growth figures show a rate of +0.5% (annualised = +2.0%) but the actual rates for the last 4 quarters were:
+0.5%
+0.2%
+0.7%
+0.4%
Actual 12 month rate = +1.8%

Of course Germany has been in a technical recession for 2 quarters although they shifted numbers to avoid it and the Eurozone isn’t doing so well either @ +1.2%. Samples:
France: +1.2% Annual
Germany: +0.7% Annual
Italy: -0.10% Annual

Julian1
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Julian1

Look at the PMI figures, tells a more accurate and up to date story

Chris H
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Chris H

@ Julian1 – Oh right so we are diverting off somewhere else now? OK no worries although you did refer to ‘growth has completely stopped’ not a forward index which (as anything less than 50 is a contraction) even then shows less growth not anything like ‘stopped’. Lets look at the relevant PMIs: China @ 49.4 Canada @ 49.2 Italy @ 48.4 UK @ 48.0 Spain @ 47.9 Switzerland @ 47.7 Eurozone @ 47.6 Germany @ 45.0 Not too sure why you wanted to change tack but even here we are doing as well as most and better than the… Read more »

Julian1
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Julian1

Growth for the services sector which as we know drives uk GDP is barely above 50. If services is not growing, the economy certainly isn’t. The lag of this may take some time to be reflected in official growth figures. That is how it is.

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

June PMI figures were poor, But yes, I do take the point that uk economy is holding up remarkably well all things considered for now at least. I think Q3 and Q4 are likely to be a different story though

Mike Barrett
Guest

Some people just want to put us down. Sadly most of those are UK citizens. I think after Brexit we’ll flourish. Hopefully now we have proven our military is too small for our needs we will demand and enlarge the Navy to at least 1998 numbers. Even the bean counters want their safety and security. We could reduce knife crime too by bringing back National Service for 17 to 21 year old, two years for every boy and girl, with a guaranteed trade on leaving. Only avoided if going into a useful degree like medicine and completing doctor training. We… Read more »

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Mike Barrett – Well said Sir! I have the view that there are too many people who not only have no faith in the UK’s ability to exist outside the political structures of the EU let alone its ability to punch above its weight (despite having proved that over many many decades) but who actually wish to do this country harm from within.

I keep reminding those tempted to be persuaded by the ‘Doubting Thomas’ crew of what FDR said when the USA faced a World War:
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”

Mike Barrett
Guest

Well said too Chris. Sorry I accidentally flagged this, I thought it gave me the option to give you the thumbs up, oddly I can’t seem to ‘unflag’ it.

Nigel Collins
Guest
Nigel Collins

I wonder if the government has considered for one moment using the QE class for delivering aid in peacetime (more helicopters) and F-35’s at a time of conflict?

That would leave the option of funding the operations of both carriers and other ships in the fleet from both the defence budget and the foreign aid budget.

We need to start thinking smarter when it comes to defence!

Tommy
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Tommy

There is no recruitment crisis !! More recruits than ever in fact just no ships to put them on .

Phil Chadwick
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Phil Chadwick

Both Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carriers will serve and protect the UK and it’s interests overseas for the next 50 years.

Herodotus
Guest

Thank-you Nostradamus!

Peter Elliott
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Peter Elliott

Its providing the strategic depth and resilience we keep asking for.

You have to anticipate that they will alternate as “very high readiness” asset. So at any given moment the second carrier will mostly be either alongside in Pompey or pottering about off the South Coast doing FOST while a few Commando Merlins hop on and off to maintain currency.

Not unreasonable too for the crews to get a decent spell in home waters, rather than deploying for 9 months a year every year.

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

One in the North Atlantic, maybe, backing up the J.E.G. and the other ” on tour ” showing the flag and exercising with allies in the Indian Ocean and Far East?

Mark Franks
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Mark Franks

Yes your comments make sense. Will the purse strings be pulled even tighter and see at least one carrier fall by the wayside.

Mark Davenport
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Mark Davenport

We can only hope the government get both ships fully operational. We still need to protect our sea lanes, we do live on an island after all.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

One in service one in reserve.

I believe that is what 2015 SDSR decided.

Like the LPDs.

We won’t have a full air group for two anyway. So put helis on it and USMC fighters if both deploy.

As long as we have both so one is always available.

Graham Moore
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Graham Moore

We are buying 138 F-35s; that’s enough for two Air Groups.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

We are “committed” to buying 138 over the life of the program. That is over decades.

Many of those will replace Typhoons. The MoD has outlined vague plans for 4 operational F35 Squadrons.

And I don’t think we will buy 138, just like we never bought 250 EuroFighter or 13 T26 Frigates.

An air group also comprises Merlin, of which we have just 30, down from 44. Merlin’s also now required to carry out the ASCS mission as well.

julian1
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julian1

3 years on and 3 years off – rotate the 2 but keep the 2, that would be a reasonable outcome but PLEASE – more escorts!

Peter Shaw
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Peter Shaw

Alternating both carriers (not just POW but also QE) between training, maintenance and actual operations means you actually need two carriers at the least anyway. Therefore, the argument for having both is self-evident so you always have one on active service. If we take that approach it means that the lifetime of both carriers can be extended as they won’t get the wear and tear. I think if we took this approach it means we have enough ships for one carrier group with ease. If an emergency situation ariseslike the Falklands it means you have both carriers available in high… Read more »

mac
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mac

Oh it will come in to service, no doubt about that. The question is whether it will be possible for the RN to keep hold of a second carrier throughout the 50yr service life in the face of changing governments, economic downturns and military priorities. My guess is once we’ve had 20yrs out of them, we’ll flog one of them off.

Bill
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Bill

We will never have 2 carriers in service let alone operating at the same time. What with 6 aircraft each?!! The whole shebang is an expensive waste of money and frankly an embarrassment. The CDG never embarks with less than 30 jets and often up to 36 like what a proper aircraft carrier should.
Incidentally the French ‘hover board’ demonstrated at the Bastille parade seemed to have much more battlefield potential than the ‘iron man’ equivalent recently trialled by the RM

Chris H
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Chris H

@ Bill – Not sure where you get the ‘6 each’ from as we already have more than 12. So I suspect the rest of your comment is as equally poorly researched.

Especially as you seem to think a 70,000 ton Supercarrier that has already launched and retrieved 5th Gen F-35s over 200 times last year is not ‘a proper aircraft carrier’.

Bill Edmead
Guest
Bill Edmead

Chris, yes l know we have 15 at present but what do you think constitues a ‘supercarrier’? For me its aircraft numbers not the tonnage. If we eventually get just 2 squadrons assigned to one carrier which is 24, that will be it. Supercarrier? Buy another 40 F35’s for the Navy and l might reconsider.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

24 F35B plus 9 ASW Merlin plus Merlin ASCS ( 3, 4? ) plus Merlin CHF det for CSAR plus whatever extra helis QEC carries is a step change in capability over the Invincibles. It’s what we we will have, which is more than every other nation on earth bar the USA,China,India, France. And France has just the one. Not a bad club to be in. And when the first is in use the second is used for aviation training, FOST, reserve, or whatever. So we always have one ready and two if in need. Put Helis on it for… Read more »

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Daniele Mandelli – Very well said again Sir. Your list of countries with substantial carrier capability is actually not quite accurate – China has one operational carrier (Liaoning) and India has one (INS Vikramaditya)

But as you rightly say we are now members of an influential set of nations. And no we will never have 11 carriers because we do not need them. Personally I don’t think the USA does either but that’s their business not mine.

T.S
Guest

Whilst we need more jets to properly unlock their potential, as far as I can see, with two 65-70,000 tonne carriers by the end of the year we come second only to the US. India’s is 40,000 tonne with ski ramp and inferior jets, France 45,000 tonne and just one, Russia’s is scrap, and China have one 55,000 tonne training carrier. Until China’s second and third come on line in the coming years we will hold a prestigious position in this area.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

No problem Chris. My list of nations was really a generalisation of those major nations or actual superpowers with a carrier capability, rather than how many ships or what they fly. Both India and China I guess have the potential and the desire to increase in that area.

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Bill Edmead – Just one simple observation if i may? The QE hasn’t finished sea trials and air certification let alone achieved IOC. So whats your beef as of right now? And whether you like it or not the term ‘Supercarrier’ is indeed based on its size and displacement and not the numbers of aircraft. Given that assessment the QE Class are second only to a Nimitz and then by only 130 feet in deck length. As and when our new carriers are put to the test they will have sufficient aircraft for the tasks they are given –… Read more »

Airborne
Guest
Airborne

In actual fact it’s not about numbers of aircraft carried it’s about the sortie rate that can be produced. And a smaller air wing with F35 can produce a higher sortie rate than the CDG with the magical 36 airframes you seem to deem required for a real carrier. But then again I suppose it’s which side of the pond you live on as the yanks think the CDG and everything else, aside from QE, are certainly not real carriers!

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Airborne – you touch on a key point. The QE initial sortie rate is higher than a Nimitz because it does not need to ‘stage’ aircraft on catapults which takes a good few minutes each but that advantage falls away over 24 hours (because of retrieval rates) but only by some 10%.
I would suggest that when brown stuff hits the whirly thing its who gets aircraft in the air first and into action is the one with the big advantage regardless of numbers.

Mike Barrett
Guest

What with 6 aircraft each? The whole shebang is an expensive waste of money and frankly an embarrassment… Yes Chris: This chap is one those naysayers I was speaking of. No research, yet using his negative perspective of our great nation he’s came with 6 F-35’s per carrier. We’ve bought 48 already, but we are purchasing many more. However, they are not like car production, the construction of this complex peice of machinery takes months to build, as you well know. Maybe he thinks we place the order and it’s here next week and if it’s not, then we aren’t… Read more »

Julian1
Guest
Julian1

we Will get 3 sqns of f35 abroad at some point, may need to wait awhile. Not sure CDG is much of a benchmark though…how often and for how long does it put to sea?

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

Pretty sure the US squadrons of f-18 are now 10 so they operate with 30 on a carrier, 24 F-35 is not really far off is it.

Jeffrey Bohemier
Guest
Jeffrey Bohemier

20 years? These ships should be in service for at least 50 years. The United States Navy is running its ships into the ground due to the numerous commitments around the world in order to keep the peace. European nations need to assist in those commitments as well. That means building Capital ships just like the United States routinely does.

Paul T
Guest
Paul T

Mac -as sad as it is I’d have to agree, unless there is a major shift in attitudes towards Defense spending,the changing cycles of Government and the Economy ,when there are time’s of hardship the Carrier’s would be an obvious target for cuts like they have always been.

Bill Edmead
Guest
Bill Edmead

Ok Chris, they are super carriers as size is obviously important to you. We will have to wait and see just how incredible these vessels and their capabilties are in due course. These are strike carriers primarily. We all want the best for our armed services but including the USMC as part of the inventory is a joke surely? Order more planes for the RN; when it deploys it must be with a minimum of 24 jets and be ready to load up to 40 as required. The RAF need to operate 3 frontline squadrons of F35a’s and continue to… Read more »

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Bill Edmead – thanks for the dig about size but it isn’t my assessment it is how Navies rate a carrier. Having the USMC provide aircraft and capability is absolutely no joke and an excellent development. They were deliberately given priority on F-35B production as a) we waited for the price to drop, b) it fitted in with the carrier development programme and c) it was politically expedient for the USMC to achieve IOC. So they have returned the favour and committed to providing the extra squadrons plus they bring a certain level of expertise from which we can… Read more »

Alan Reid
Guest
Alan Reid

Hi Chris, It’s unlikely RAF Typhoons (and as you know, I am a fan) will be joining the USAF on the first night of offensive air-operations against a modern, integrated air-defence network. Actually, it’s unlikely the F-35B will be playing much of a role, either, with its comparable performance limitations in range and payload. And the UK, traditionally keen to play a leading part in military coalitions, will be reduced to a secondary role – and may accordingly suffer a loss of prestige and strategic influence. Why accept these STOVL restrictions when most of our air operations will still be… Read more »

Chris H
Guest
Chris H

@ Alan Reid – We both share a huge admiration for the Tiffy … If called upon by the USA to join a coalition strike there is no reason why Typhoons wouldn’t be doing what Tornados were doing decades before. First night or whatever. We will have to disagree over how capable or not the F-35 (of whatever variant) is in its intended role of suppression, intelligence and targeting. I think it will be a game changer especially linked as they are directly to upgraded Typhoons which will be able to launch a wide weapon variation at distance. And in… Read more »

L Garrett
Guest

A believer in a balanced navy that is affordable. The defence budget will not bare the current pressures. Taking the costs of aircraft and escorts into account, something has to give. Given a down turn economically with Brexit and weak pound, matters become even more critical. An island that has to import food to feed itself, the maritime cannot be ignored, how to square this circle is beyond my pay grade, but l am sceptical of these two carriers, and its train of accoutrements.

Jeffrey Bohemier
Guest
Jeffrey Bohemier

It would be absolutely terrific if some other European countries would start creating carrier battle groups of their own to supplement the commitments of the United States Navy. After all, those commitment are actually NATO’s in as much as they belong to the United States. And yet, since NATO was formed, only the United States has actual battlegroups that patrol the oceans. It’s great to see the British finally join the team. But France, Germany, and Italy should equally be doing their part as well. That means that they too should deploy battlegroups with their own capital (aircraft carrier) ships.… Read more »

Gerald Aldridge
Guest
Gerald Aldridge

The government should plan and fund a third carrier as to be able to keep two carriers at sea with one in port should the need arise for an unfortunate situation in the world. This would include getting more aircraft for this third carrier.

MattW
Guest
MattW

your usual political answer, “current plans” “dates to be determined” that could all change with brexit and such like. Future plans could be “possible plans”, “dates might be determined” etc..

I mean my current plans are to win big on the lottery, buy a small island classify it as a sovereign nation and live out my years as grand emperor, but no guarantee that’s ever gonna happen!

peter french
Guest
peter french

Never beleive statements like this. Our useless Government will give way to then Treasury with their usual lack of will Ill lay money that P O W will be sold to the French although haveing said this P O W doesnt have Caterpault launch gear for the RAfael jets.
Could be modified maybe