The builders are hoping HMS Prince of Wales will be leaving Rosyth dockyard for sea trials this time next year.

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance are confident she will be ready for sea trials by November 2019.

Sir Simon Lister of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance said the ship is physically complete.

“We’re now at that stage of fitting out all the equipment inside the ship. Wiring it up, plumbing it up, and setting all that equipment to work. One of the powerful things about this contact is that any budgetary over-run is shared between the industry and government, so there is a very strong pressure to get this done at minimum cost to the taxpayer and companies,” he said.

It’s our objective to finish this programme on time and as close to budget as we can.”

People I spoke to on-board the vessel on my last visit told me that building HMS Prince of Wales has been “20% to 25%” faster than building its sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth. When on HMS Queen Elizabeth two years ago, we were told that the build of HMS Prince of Wales was expected to be around 8 months quicker thanks to “lessons learned” in the build process.

The builders are already applying lessons from including improvements to the process of preparing its heat-resistant flight deck and installing an improved F-35 landing light systems earlier in the build process.

Recently, the Aircraft Carrier Alliance has successfully handed over the HMS Prince of Wales Navigation Bridge to the Royal Navy, a milestone originally planned for March 2019.

According to a news release:

“In the spring of 2018, we took the decision to bring this milestone forward, and since then the production team lead by Harry McCluskey and Mike Ballantine have worked tirelessly with multiple trades to bring this compartment up to the standard required for CCI. The Navigation Bridge is where the ship is commanded. When HMS Prince of Wales goes to sea, the bridge will be manned by the Ship’s Company and will include an Officer of the Watch aided by several Able Seaman acting as lookouts. The ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Moorhouse and his Navigator will also be present on the bridge.”

The Aircraft Carrier Alliance say that the bridge was completed on time through collaborative work between multiple trades including, Babcock production, Balfour Beatty, Ticon, the Mission Systems IPT and Northrop Grumman Sperry Marine.

HMS Prince of Wales is also expected to take over F-35 trials to allow HMS Queen Elizabeth to return to dock for her routine re-certification work.

Former Captain of the vessel Ian Groom told media that HMS Prince of Wales will need to be delivered during 2019 to allow flight trails to continue whilst Queen Elizabeth is undergoing inspection in dry dock.

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Nigel Collins

Perhaps now would be a good time to be looking into adding an onboard missile defense system to HMS Queen Elizabeth before she returns for inspection?

Fantastic news none the less and an incredible feat by all those who built her in double quick time!

Michael Hill

I am sure there should be room for a few sea ceptor silos on board… they both need more than phalanx that’s for sure…


An onboard missile defense system is essential if we seriously want the QEs to survive any modern conflict.


I agree with everyone who supports additional self-defence capabilities beyond a mere 3 Phalanx. Sadly, I just don’t see it happening. Like the Type 45s being fitted with Mk41 VLS; just another pipe dream. Utter short-sightedness that one day could cost us dear.

I’m amazed that we design and build beautiful ships that have awesome potential only to completely underarm them compared to their peers! Astounding!

Maybe the money will be found to add Sea Ceptor before she enters service but I won’t hold my breath……

David Steeper

The first photos of her and the QE steaming together is going to be my personal highlight. ‘I love it when a plan comes together’ Sorry A-Team quote !


Yes, together will be an amazing sight. Better though to be able to field at least one fully escorted carrier group while having enough escorts to cover all our other commitments, refits, repairs & a little slack for war casualties, so we have a viable force that won’t be quickly neutralised if it ball kicks off. 19 just doesn’t cover us.

Andrew Jenkin

We only have 17 frigates and destroyers, we lack the manpower to man the other 2.

The QEC class require 300 more crew than originally forecast making the RN manning problems into a crisis.

David Steeper

Andrew the 3 Invincibles each needed 700 to crew the ship and 400 for the air group. The 2 QE’S need 700 to crew each ship and 800 for the air group. The maths don’t stand scrutiny. The manning problems in the RN stem from the moronic decision of the coalition govt to cut manpower in the full knowledge they’d have to reverse it. It saved 10’s of millions but will cost hundreds of millions to fix.


I think this is why we are seeing reports that foreigners will be recruited to serve in the UK military. No doubt 5 eyes nationals but Gurkhas should have a good pair of sea legs 🙂

Mr Bell

Andrew sorry my friend but you know nothing and seem to be an anti RN type. RAF or ex RAF or maybe a Putin not? Here are some facts. The RN manpower was reduced by Cameron and Osbourne in SDSR 2010-2015 by 2000 personnel. Having already been cut by Brown and Blair by 5000 more personnel in 2008-2009. So the manpower problem is of our own making. The QE class carriers are the most efficient fleet carriers in the world and are incredibly lean manned 1500 max crew for full load out versus over 5000 for a Nimitz or Ford… Read more »

Robert Blay

And all that extra cash you talk about would simply be spent on the NHS and education.

David Stephen

Even if money was not an issue we could never man all those ships, unless you want to bring back press gangs. Yes the government can increase spending but without conscription it would be pointless, we can’t crew 17 escorts never mind 23.


Do we have enough personnel to crew both at the same time?

Daniele Mandelli

I thought so yes. Oceans crew part of that I think?

captain P Wash.

That’s a Blessed relief, for a while there, I thought we might have sold Ocean’s Crew to Brazil as part of the Deal !

David Steeper

In an emergency with mobilisation of reserves we can crew both the problem would be the F35’s.

Mr Bell

Yep we sacrificed Ocean to allow the RN to crew both QEs.


IIRC she was at one time scheduled to take over from QNLZ for further flying trials in 2019, and so first sea trials this time next year looks like a big schedule slip to me.


I’ve lost count of the number of times it’s been explained why these ships will not be fitted with missile systems. Just get over it.

These ships will be very ably defended from air attack by a task group consisting of (but not exclusively by) T45, T23/6 and also the onboard F35’s.

Anthony D



i just do hope they at least have anti torpedo defenses like the us carriers do….. that’s a far bigger concern imo cause there have been plenty of instances of subs winning in wargames….


@BadBehaviour The reasons I have heard or read about all seem soft. The idea that the missiles would cause debris on the ship etc is clealry non-sense. Firstly because a bit of debris is better than a lost ship, secondly because hermes was not designed for missiles and so lessons should have been learnt, how to avoid the issue and finally because we don’t have enough escorts to make up an effective layered defence. We just can’t afford to have more than a single destroyer ecorting them and that is inadequate for a number of reasons, not least because the… Read more »

David Steeper

Guys if any of you know of either an anti-air or anti-ship missile system superior in range to what the F35’s can provide you will have a point but to the best of my knowledge there isn’t one. The ships are carriers we have built them because they’re the best system to provide anti-air, ship and submarine warfare. If there are missile systems better we should not have built them.


Any point defence missile is better than the F35. Point defence is there as a last ditch backup after the umbrella probably by area defence has failed to spot an incoming missile or intercept it. Yes F35 is a great defensive aid but it’s not possible to have them in the air 24/7 and not possible to get one up fast enough for a last ditched defence.

Layered defence is just that, many layers working together to guarantee protection. The F35 would be one of the outter layers.

Robert Blay

We will always be part of a international task group, we would have other NATO Escorts with us as well as our own, we have had T45’s working with US Navy carriers and the French carrier, it’s very common these days. Everyone needs to get over these fantasy fleets and Tom Clancy inspired wars, the Navy knows what it is doing.

Mr Bell

Robert. The navy top brass have said repeatedly to the commons defence select committee that the minimum number of escort warships needed now. In peacetime with no war waging is 26 frigates and destroyers just to match current commitments in peacetime. We have 17 in active service. They have also said that the last 2 SDSRs that cut 8000 personnel from the RN as well as 7 frigates and 4 nuclear subs need to be reversed. So yes theNavy knows what it is doing but is being constantly ignored by the bean counters in the treasury and spreadsheet Phill. Economy… Read more »

Mr Bell

Agree the QEs need the Italian anti torpedo anti mine rocket system fitted to the Italian Fremm class frigates. Subsurface and missile strikes are the biggest threat to the QEs.


The UK SSTD is very, very good. What we realy need is the US hard kill part of the SSTD.


Just a question from a simple career soldier. Where will the crew be dug out from? We all know the RN is suffering from severe manpower shortages (like we are thanks to Capita) or will she be sailed around for a few weeks for PR purposes then parked up in Portsmouth in reserve?


I think a lot of the crews are based on new recruits. From that documentary they did last year everyone looked very fresh faced, which probably makes sense considering the entire ship will be new to everyone. In that case I’m sure the RN hasn’t struggled to attract 700 youngsters to sign up to serve on board an aircraft carrier. I think the hardest task will be retaining them once they are skilled up.

Peter french

Oh Dear , that statement ” we will get as close to Budget as possible speaks volumes. Look out for a Budget over run


Airborne Put simply – the RN is probably at least 6k sailors short of where it needs to be. the Army is short of its targets by about 8k. Seems to me that 8k needs to be assigned to the navy perhaps in exchange for the RM moving the other way. Our forces need rebalancing – but the top brass dont want to do it. Poor leadership in my mind. Ultimately there is no need for either to occur, there is a fantastic small country called Nepal that has high quality soldiers who would just love to be part of… Read more »


Such a well populated country we are & yet we have manpower shortages in our armed forces. It’s a disgrace that we manage our personnel so badly that they don’t want to stay, especially highly trained engineers which are the lynch pin of the RN. We ask these sailors to risk life & limb for their country, yet refuse to reward them sufficiently or back them up. For far too long the accountants & idiotic politicians have run the forces into the ground. With such a weak escort fleet we can’t rely on having enough escorts to properly, even adequately,… Read more »

Mr Bell

Utterly correct Frank. Very concise and factually accurate. Well done sir.


The problem is far far more complex. We are a developed country, with a raising middle class, with the lower paid jobs needing to be filled by immigrants from eastern europe, because the locals think the jobs are below them. The military has historically pulled from the working class, from families looking to better themselves (ignoring the officers) and that proportion of the population has significantly reduced over the last few decades and will continue to reduce. The working class is now predominately made up of immigrants, that have no connection to the UK and so don’t feel the patriotic… Read more »

Robert Blay

And who exactly has the political will, and the technology to successfully engage a British or American aircraft carrier? How many have been fired at in the last 30 years,? Zero, that’s how many, SAM systems on carriers are a waste of money, looks good in the brochure, but that’s about it.i served for 14 years on Invincible class carriers, we had 3 phalanx, no missiles, and I felt safe as house’s. Because the layered defence system works extremely well, plus nobody puts a carrier within 300 miles of anyone that might seriously want to shoot at you, and people… Read more »

Andy Foster

Its good to see the second build going so well. It does show how impressive the QE build was. The 1st in the line always takes longer then we learn and improve. Now, why not build a few more…..? I know about the manpower issues but they can be fixed. If the navy looks like a great place to go then people will join. New blood is good. Now, and maybe to be a bit contraversial, start selling them around the world. Obviously to navies we trust but we can now show that we know how to build these. Non… Read more »


In other news, RFA Tidespring has joined Westlant 18 in place of Tiderace.


I think Sea Ceptor will be installed in due course, it does not need the guidence/ fire control nor associated radar, the missile can be linked directly to the fire control and sensors within the escorts. In due course I assume Sea Ceptor will replace the short range Astor 15 within the type 45 at which point additional SC launch facilities will be added to PoW and QE. Looking at the larger picture it is quite obvious that the commonality of UK missile systems is the driving force of developing the back bone of the fleet protection umbrella. It will… Read more »