HMS Prince of Wales hit her “official” top speed of 25 knots as her diesel generators and gas turbines were pushed to full throttle, say the Royal Navy.
According to BAE, the class has a maximum speed of 25 knots but typically in projects like this, the maximums are understated.
The top speed for this class of ship is much higher, with HMS Queen Elizabeth hitting around 32 knots on trials.
The source of this information is the automatic identification system (AIS) which is a tracking system used for collision avoidance on ships and by vessel traffic services. Information provided by AIS equipment, such as unique identification, position, course, and speed, can be displayed on a screen or in a simpler format on many websites.
Speaking to a naval architect involved in the programme, I was told regarding sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth:
“While the vessel will never routinely cruise at that speed, ships of this size including bigger American supercarriers never do, she will be capable of this speed even when loaded as verified by recent builders trials. 32 knots however is likely the maximum, she’s not going to go any faster.”
According to the Royal Navy, it took almost all the 109 Megawatts of power – enough to meet the needs of a city the size of the carrier’s home of Portsmouth – the six engines generate to propel the 65,000-tonne warship along at full speed.
“The carrier is powered by four diesel generators and two gas turbines, run by the 170-strong marine engineering department – one third the size of the equivalent department on the Navy’s last conventional carrier, HMS Ark Royal, which left service 40 years ago.”
The Royal Navy added in a news release that it required another two miles of clear sea to bring the 280-metre-long aircraft carrier to a stop again – such is the momentum generated by the engines running flat out.