Commodore Stephen Moorhouse has taken over command of the UK’s second new aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales.

Captain Moorhouse will be the first sea-going captain of HMS Prince of Wales, which is expected to leave Rosyth in late 2019 for contractor sea trials.

Captain Moorhouse said:

“I am delighted to assume command of HMS Prince of Wales at this exciting time as we prepare the ship to enter service. She will operate of the centre of a Maritime Task Group that will support the UK’s diverse diplomatic, security and economic interests around the globe.”

The Royal Navy say in a news release that the hand-over from an Engineering Senior Naval; Officer to a Warfare Commanding Officer is a major milestone in the ship’s build programme; Captain Moorhouse takes over from Captain Ian Groom who has spent more than two years leading the engineering marvels of the construction of the ship.

Looking back at his time with the ship, Captain Groom said:

“I have enjoyed my tenure as Senior Naval Officer for HMS Prince of Wales immensely and I am hugely proud of everything we have achieved. My handover of command to Captain Moorhouse marks the start of a new phase that will see him working together with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance to take HMS Prince of Wales to sea and subsequently into service.”

Sir Simon Lister, ACA Managing Director said:

“I would like to thank Captain Ian Groom for his innovative, enthusiastic and steadfast work as Senior Naval Officer, HMS Prince of Wales. Ian has been a key member of my senior team, leading the vital integration of the ship’s company into the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.

The arrival of Captain Steve Moorhouse, both as the Admiralty Trials Master and Commanding Officer, further strengthens our team as we gain momentum towards sea trials for HMS Prince of Wales. I warmly welcome Steve, and look forward to working closely with him as we together complete and set to work his ship.”

The Royal Navy also point out that Captain Moorhouse has previously commanded Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Severn in waters around the UK coastline and her sister ship HMS Clyde in the South Atlantic, Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster and helicopter assault ship HMS Ocean.


  1. Hmmm…Sir Simon Lister who was the Head Engineer for the RN as an admiral and is now having some time off from the RN ( I didn’t know you could do sabbaticals…but apparently he can) to be ACA Managing Director!!

    Nice work when you can get it!

  2. Thank Christ we didn’t cancel our sell the second one off. A part time carrier strike capability would have been rediculous. Is there potential to surge two of? Will PoW be a lph or proper carrier?

    • Of course there is the ability to surge to 2 and in fact despite reports the UK can have a very good navy with 2 strike groups and 4 squadrons.

      Carrier Strike can be as follows on a 1 on 1 off basis with ability to surge to 2.

      CBG (22 ships in total / 11 per CBG)
      1 CVF
      2 T45
      4 T23/31
      2 FFT
      1 LPD
      1 SSN

      4 Squadrons for Tasks (64 major ships)

      2 x T23/T45
      2 x Rivers
      4 x MHVC
      1 x SSS
      1 x Bay (preferably 2 Karel Doorman style Joint support ships)
      1 x SSN
      1 x SSBN
      4 Fast Patrol Ships
      16 CB90’s

      With just a small adjustment in procurement we can do this and in the interim we can still make these numbers (except CB90’s) as it is within current RN numbers.

      So yes we can surge, but we also need to re-organise the RN into 2 x Carrier Battle Groups (Gold and Juno I like) and 4 Squadrons (Trafalgar, Quiberon, Jutland and Taranto) but pick your own names.

      Thing is we have most of this kit, we certainly have the hulls, we just need more sailors.

      • Love this idea. And the names Juno and Gold.

        Shouldn’t the T45s and eventually the T26 be purely for the CBG though?

        And 1 FSS also, not with the other squadrons.

        With the 31s used for tasks elsewhere. That is supposed to be the whole point of them according to the 1SL, apart from the obvious that there’s no money for 13 T26.

        The RN can certainly form task groups but always seems to be deployed far and wide as singletons on standing tasks, which inevitably would include the assets you list for the CBG unless numbers increase.

        • Hi Daniele,

          I think you could cut this a number of ways, personally I would like to see T26 upgraded with Sampson and 13 built with a view to replace T45 in 15 years time. I also believe organisationally a squadron is 1 T26 and 2 T31’s and would really like to see T31’s take on ASW in the outer ring of carrier defence, with a JLAS (Joint logistic and amphib) holding the MHVC capability.

          Obviously the CBG can be added to as we see fit, but we should really set these up from the start to operate at full capacity otherwise they are a massive waste of money.

          It’s a set of organisational changes but 2 CBG’s and 4 Squadrons for tasking sounds reasonable to me, just need more people to make this happen really.

    • Both carriers will be crewed I believe. Oceans crew wrt needed for PoW and the RM establishment was also altered to create more posts.

      2010 SDSR outlined how 1 would always be available with the other able to join in crisis.

      I believe only 1 can be furnished with a full air group unless numbers on one hull are transferred to the other hull reducing the complement of both?

      There are too few Merlin for both I fear.

      The second could be used in conjunction with the first in a LPH role too carrying Chinook CHF Merlin Wildcat and whatever else is available, including of course USMC in a coalition operation.

  3. Thanks Pacman, interestimg, I don’t know all the vessel types but get the gist. What about refit and work up time? Where would squadrons be based? What about standing NATo commitments?

    • I think we need to go to a 1 off 1 on system for all assets perhaps with 3 crews for each squadron and a spare carrier crew (which will probably be needed anyhow).

      It is essentially 6 squadrons + 2 carriers and you could assign any squadron to a carrier as you see fit really if we standardise the assets (T26/T31/ FFT/ JALS etc). It is then just a matter of rotating the 6 squadrons through our tasking and other commitments ensuring we ensure people get enough time at home.

      For me each becomes a mini fleet that takes care of its own maintenance day to day, but clearly the larger maintenance programme will be across the whole and if we look at the fact we only need 6 SSN’s for instance then that leaves 1 available for refit at any point in time. We just double this model up to sustain it.

      It’s likely that 1 of the 6 squadrons will be in a 6 month maintenence period at any point in time with a 7th refit squadron of reduced size being in long term refit as well (year 13 refit as part of the 25 year NSS build plan, single major lifecycle upgrade)

      Needs a change in mindset which I think the FSL is up for

  4. Any word on the progress of our first T26?

    It’s all well and good talking about the PoW but we need the frigates and, let’s be honest, T31 ‘aint gonna happen any time soon.

  5. I’ve been toying with an intervention force rotating through each carrier battle group, with the usual vessels.

    Then a presence force, permanently stationed with crew flown in after work up on the UK, as follows:

    UK and NATO standing groups. Rest.
    Falklands. Opv and type 31.
    Bahrain. MCM, Bay, type 31, opv.
    Singapore. Type 31.

    • I’d like a few more support vessels for the RFA so the Bay’s can be released to actually conduct amphibious ops rather than being floating depots in the Middle East and disaster ships in the Caribbean.

  6. Career breaks , as you say, are not common. I can think of zero people I have worked with over the 3 and a bit decades I was in the mob who did it.
    Best of luck to him…especially as he is probably on more at ACA than he was whilst serving.

  7. Should be banned in my opinion, these guys can go on assignment with their RN paid for by the industrial partner, but not pick and choose.

    It should also be illegal for them to work in defence industry for 10 year post their last command.

    This is for Colonel and above (and equivalent).

    I just think its taking the piss – not as if they aren’t well paid by the MOD or anything.

  8. Basically we ned to go back to the FLEET system like we used to have.

    Home fleet
    British Pacific Fleet
    Indian Ocean (BIOT, and Bahrain)
    Falkland Islands Task force
    Others inc..Amphibious Ops

    Permanently based in those areas

    Wishful thing.

    • John

      I think this is where we are heading actually, or at least should.

      The RN should have 7 fleets or commands overall (6 surface and CASD).

      6 Fleets of circa 11-12 major vessels – each commanded by an admiral and each containing 2 squadrons of 3 escorts and a range of Support assets (see above).

      From this I think we can generate the tasking required on a 1 on 1 off basis within each fleet and a rotation through the tasking so that everyone gets 6 month in home waters every 2-3 years.

      Now we have the carriers, my view is that we make these work 8 months of the year with a 3rd crew rotating across the carrier fleet (probably means you need 4 crews to sustain this).

      The key point is we need another 8k people in the navy and I think that will come from the army or reserve numbers.

  9. Pacman. This is a really interesting force structure. Have you thought about writing this up for ukdj? One issue for me is that a squadron would perhaps be overkill for commitments in the Carribbean and Falklands, where perhaps only a constabulary vessel and a store ship / gp frigate respectively would be required. Similarly, NATO standing groups would syphon off vessels from the home squadron. Would squadrons rotate through the theatres on a deployment or be ported in a theatre permanent? Could we fly crew back and forth?

    For me, each CBG should get 1/3 high end escorts, with the other third supporting a new NATO standing group concept based on the framework nation concept. With a proportionate mix of low end vessels like OPVs, Bay (MCM as uuv only) and Type 31s creating permanently stationed squadrons out of Bahrain, Singapore, Falklands and Carribbean. CBGs would deploy in support of these locally based squadrons or northern framework squadron as needed.

    First tranche of 48 f35 should focus on sustaining one CBG with a routine carry of 36. So with the vessels we already plan to have:

    1) CBG#1…CVF, LPD, t45, t45, t26, t26, t26, fft, fft, fss, ssn, 2 squadrons f35, 1 flight crowsnest. Rear admiral command.
    2) CBG#2 same but in maintenance but surge capable.
    3) UK PATROL and WORK UP for flown out crew and DETERRENT launch/recovery…with opv, opv, t31, ssbn, ssn, and LONGTERM REFIT…t45, t26, t31, OPV, support vessel, ssn, ssbn. Vice admiral.
    4) Standing northern flank squadron contribution…flag t45, t26, SSN and MCM alongside NATO and Swedish/Finnish vessels. Rear admiral command.
    5) Falklands patrol.. OPV, t31. Commadore.
    6) Bahrain patrol… OPV (anti piracy), Bay uuv only MCM, t31, ssn. Commadore.
    7) Singapore patrol. T31, ssn. Additional local allies. Commadore.
    8) Carribbean patrol. Opv and bay. Additional local allies. Commadore.

    Could we do this now?

  10. Anthony D

    I have actually modelled the whole UK defence force and costed it and sent to the MOD who said it was interesting.

    I have spent 2 year looking at MOD budgets and spending and have to say that I believe them to be a work of fiction.

    I am more than happy to put an article together for UKDJ on force structure, budget and organisation and would also say my primary goal is to make our armed forces better equiped and more lethal.

    Whilst the above can be achieved within current constraints – I do believe the UK needs an armed forces budget of 2.5% GDP with the DFID budget capped at 0.5% and an increase to uk law and order of 0.5% GDP, as all are in reality connected.

    One of my other constant arguments is that any current surface RN ship is incapable of sinking a ship larger than 50m. I just dont think they have the offensive capability, so totally agree.

    If people would like me to publish my target organisational and cost model and explain the rationale, then I am more than willing to put it out there

    • I find it fascinating myself.

      What interests me with this and that of Anthony’s above is that it is all current stuff in service or in the pipeline not a fantasy fleets exercise.

      We our constantly decreasing assets we really need to organise them better. The army structure is an utter mess at the moment for example.

      • Daniele

        You are right and I have a fully costed force structure of under 250k personnel (including civilians that sees significant changes in capability and actually treats people far better than they ever have been.

        We need constant investment with no slippages and industry needs to be rewarded for success and punished for failure.

        Our days of cutting edge are gone – or at least not needed. What we need is to maintain industry and our defence forces with a critical mass that can be scaled up if we ever need it to be.

        We have about what we need, we dont need a lot more in honesty – a few tweaks here and there, such as a single commando force (much bigger than the disparate Paras, RM etc) that works as one. It’s a win win and allows the Land Force to have a real capability and platform that feeds the SFG whilst releasing 8k headcount to move to the Navy.

        The Army is in a mess and I am just saddened that nick carter got the top job after making a total cock up of FRES/Strike etc


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