HMS Prince of Wales, the second of two aircraft carriers designed and constructed for the Royal Navy, has sailed into her home port of Portsmouth Naval Base for the first time.

The ship’s arrival into Portsmouth represents the culmination of 16 years of work by the ACA – a unique alliancing relationship between BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales, and the UK Ministry of Defence. More than 10,000 people across the UK have been involved in the programme to deliver the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, with six British shipbuilding yards across the country playing a vital role in the ships’ design and construction.

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Sir Simon Lister, Managing Director, Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said:

“Today is an important day for our employees and the Royal Navy. Delivering next generation naval capability of this complexity is not only a proud moment for our employees but also showcases the industrial capability within the UK. This programme has brought together the best of British imagination, ingenuity and invention and I am extremely proud of our teams who have shown relentless drive, energy and a continued focus on ensuring we deliver the very best for the Royal Navy.”

Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive, BAE Systems, said:

“I’m incredibly proud of the role that BAE Systems has played in this national endeavour. The arrival of HMS Prince of Wales into Portsmouth is an important moment for everyone at BAE Systems, our industrial partners and the thousands of people in the supply chain across the country who have worked so hard to deliver the two Queen Elizabeth Class carriers which will protect our national interests for decades to come.”

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Archie Bethel, Chief Executive, Babcock:

“Today marks a very proud and historic moment for everyone in Babcock and the rest of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, as the second in class, HMS Prince of Wales enters Portsmouth and is handed over to the Royal Navy.  This has been a remarkable programme for everyone involved, delivering the UK’s two largest warships ever into Royal Navy service. Working collaboratively, the ACA has successfully managed the programme over the last decade, with a dedicated and skilled workforce who had one aim in mind – delivering two great, state-of-the-art flagships for the Royal Navy, which I think we can all agree has been achieved.  Our collective thanks, pride and best wishes will always travel with the crews of both Queen Elizabeth Class carriers wherever their duty takes them.”

Victor Chavez, Chief Executive of Thales in the UK, said:

“All Thales employees involved in this iconic British engineering programme should feel a sense of pride today. It’s been a fantastic challenge to be part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance from the beginning and an excellent example of industry working with the Ministry of Defence to deliver these world-leading ships. We congratulate HMS Prince of Wales on this landmark occasion.”

Designed to test the carrier’s capability, HMS Prince of Wales and her ship’s company have accomplished a number of trials and ‘firsts’ over the past nine weeks at sea, including the landing of a Merlin Mk2 and a test of her engines at full power. The sea trials programme tested all 158 essential systems on the ship which includes power and propulsion, radars, communications and essential hotel and platform services.

More than £100m has been spent updating and enhancing the facilities at Her Majesty’s Naval Base, Portsmouth, including an upgrade to the Princess Royal Jetty which will be home to both carriers. A new Combined Heat and Power facility has also been established to deliver power to the carriers, increase energy resilience and reduce the carbon footprint of the Base. Made up of three natural gas generators, at full load, the facility can produce enough energy to power 28,000 homes.

The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are the largest, most capable and powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK, each providing our armed forces with a four acre military operating base. Once fully operational, the ships will provide the forward deployed base for the UK’s F-35B aircraft, delivering an uncompromising carrier strike capability to the UK’s armed forces anywhere in the world.

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I am so going to have to time our next visit to the Historic ships when both carriers are alongside. That would be a sight to see at least once. Awesome!


Indeed what a sight that will be. I can see there will be some considerable competition between these two crews over the years.

Gavin Gordon

Xmas/New Year?


Great day for the RN. Too bad the old Ark Royal R09 wasn’t preserved there as a comparison…



My favorite ship tucked away in the background, HMS Warrior too in that diagram, I have direct family heritage going back to the building of that ship so always brings a tear to my eye.


Years ago my company had its Christmas dinner on the Warrior. Myself and my wife did the tour of the ship before dinner and it was amazing. I still find it staggering that the Navy used her as a fueling jetty! Guess if they hadn’t she would have been scrapped.

Spyinthesky, ever thought of letting the museum know about your relative. I am sure they would be interested if you could give them any information or family stories…


Lovely ship and they did a wonderful job restoring it. Your ancestor would recognize her in a heartbeat if nothing else.



You mean R07??


I’m assuming R09 was intentional. Ark Royal (R07) has a place in this country’s history, culture and is arguably a household name but Ark Royal (R09) even more so. Besides, R09 is now the pennant no. of POW.


Spot on Lusty.



PoW & the Big E both in for Christmas will be a sight to see. With all the dredging and development can they get a US carrier in – I wonder?


Rob, from the point of draught a Nimitz class should be able to enter Portsmouth, waterline beam is six foot diffrence so that should not be a problem but the US carriers are a 100 foot longer so possibly that could be an issue. The main problem that I see is I do not know if Portsmouth is cleared for nuclear vessels, I don’t think that even our SSNs enter Portsmouth.

Nick C

I think you are spot on with the length problem, you can get a US carrier in but you can’t turn it round, and going either in or out astern is not a good look!
I’m pretty sure that SSN’s have been into Portsmouth in the past, and the US nuke carriers regularly anchor at Spithead, so perhaps that is not so much of a problem.


Its not a length problem it never has been, its a nuclear power problem. Portsmouth isn’t certified to host nuclear powered vessels


Neither is many Nations ports, “ but but HMS QE isn’t nuclear so she’s scrap” that argument always annoyed me! Nuclear is only better in submarines in my opinion, or ice breakers miles from anywhere maybe.


BZ all – a fantastic achievement and her arrival really is a sight to behold. She’s being formally commissioned on 10th December. For those aware of the fate of the previous Prince of Wales, it’s a very pertinent date.

Steve Salt

Indeed Lusty, but as the sea service is a superstitious one is it not unlucky ?

And we shouldn’t forget Repulse either. Great name btw.


I’m not too sure on that one. There’s many superstitions surrounding renaming a ship, fridays, pennant numbers, flowers and animals, but I can’t recall any about commissioning a ship on the anniversary of a sinking. As for reusing a name, well, no less than four of the previous HMS Invincibles have been sunk by enemy action or foundered. Reuse of a name is a good way of honouring the pervious ship and continuing the tradition associated with the name.

I agree, Repulse is a great name.


I wonder if that will get a mention anywhere?

By the way do we keep an eye on our protected wrecks. I read somewhere recently that a couple of Australian wrecks / war graves were, well gone!


In recent pictures of an under construction Chinese lpd all interior views were blurred out, yet here we have a complete breakdown of all decks, cabins and other spaces on show. Surely this sort of thing should be kept fairly secret or am I just being naive?

Bloke down the pub

Well you can’t really hide where the bridge, engines, lifts and hangars are, and they’d be the prime targets.


Agreed. With warships we are perhaps being too open with things that might be better left as a secret.


You’re assuming that deck and cabin breakdown is accurate. Obviously the big stuff is hard to not put in the right locations (e.g. hangar) but I do wonder whether some of the finer details might be more illustrative than exact. Then again maybe I’m being naive.

My possibly totally wrong idea reminded me of that old Morcambe and Wise sketch when Eric plays something on the piano in front of Andre Previn and after some unfavourable comments say – “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”. Those were the days.

Robert blay

All the important stuff is kept secret.

The Big Man

She has nine decks in the main hull, the schematic only shows four, so there is an awful lot not shown.


They probably have the blue prints already, so the above wouldn’t tell ’em anything the don’t already know. Or may be I’m just getting cynical in me old age… 🙂

Daniele Mandelli

Weren’t the plans sold to France for the proposed 2nd carrier that never happened?

If so a wider dissemination.

Lee Robida

Were all very Proud of what BAE System’s and the Royal Navy have built here. Also love what you have done with those F-35’s aircraft.


Dont expect a definitive answer but do these critcal assets have sufficient protection while moored next to each other in port from say a submarine launched cruise missile attack.


Daniele Mandelli

I doubt it. Do anyones?


Dont know Daniele… But in this age of long range cruise etc it scares the crap out of me that both could be taken out in a flash. Suspect some countries will have hot land based missile batteries (could camm do it?) functioning nearby critical assets all the time or a hot escort ship. Is it practical to have a type 45 hot in port or nearby if both carriers are tied up.


Daniele Mandelli

I have no idea if a T45 could be “hot” alongside. Countries like Russia and China have ready, comprehensive air defence systems, because they oppose the US military that has the capability to directly threaten them at any time. On top of Portsdown Hill are the same T45 radars at the LBTS. Maybe they are used? Ironically, just about all of the UKs ground based missile assets are nearby, either at Thorney Island ( 12 and 16 RA ) or in army Reserve units locally, ( Portsmouth and Southampton ) They are for field ops, with the army. But were… Read more »

andy reeves

now get those frigates built.

Mr Bell

Agree Andy, and dont take 5 years to get the first into service. Remember HMS Dreadnought launched within 1 year

andy reeves

get the frigates built

andy reeves

get the ships built