The aircraft carrier is expected to arrive in Gibraltar on Tuesday in what will be the vessels first port visit outside of the United Kingdom.

The visit will be the second time a Queen Elizabeth class carrier has visisted the British Overseas Territory with HMS Queen Elizabeth having visted previous plus recently sailing by with her Carrier Strike Group.

What has the ship been up to?

HMS Prince of Wales recently embarked her first F-35 jet.

The Royal Navy said in a statement:

“An F-35B Lightning aircraft has landed onboard the Royal Navy’s latest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, for the first time. Taking place off the south coast of England, the milestone marks a significant step towards the 65,000-tonne vessel reaching full operational capability. Operating together as part of Sea Acceptance Trials, it is the first time a fixed wing aircraft has landed onboard HMS Prince of Wales. The trials test the ship’s capability to receive and launch aircraft whilst maintaining continuous air operations.”

656 Squadron and their Apache attack helicopters also recently joined HMS Prince of Wales for her sea trials. This was the first time the ship worked with Apache helicopters. The carrier also recently tested her three Phalanx guns as part of efforts to make the vessel operational.

207 Squadron F-35B pilot and the first to land onboard HMS Prince of Wales, Squadron Leader Will said:

“It was a real honour to be the first pilot to land the F-35B onboard HMS Prince of Wales. With all the training that we have previously undertaken with HMS Queen Elizabeth, we are now looking forward to using that experience and knowledge working with HMS Prince of Wales as she moves towards her full operational capability.”

The Royal Navy say that the carrier is undertaking a period of trials and training, establishing her lethality and ability to sustain operations.

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Geoffrey Roach
Geoffrey Roach
1 month ago

Just back online after moving house. What a joy! Glad to see the navy is on the move as well.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago

Nice clear message that RN has crew for two carriers.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago

Yes, but we’re chronically short of Merlins and F35Bs. Plus of course Crowsnest, although its unclear if that is in use? I read somewhere that 2 x E3D have been tasked to look after QE?

Robert Billington
Robert Billington
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

They’ll get there, the size of the assets the RN are building is great. Even our OPVs are half the size of our present type 23s. It’s looking quite formidable, IF we might get the steady drumbeat of orders HMG promised. Seriously, who can match us in Europe at present?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Merkins in what role?

CrowsNest is a stop gap until drones are used.

Merlin for some ASW roles, like dropping torpedoes or sonar buoys will soon go to drones.

Merlin will almost certainly be life extended but to do a narrower set of duties – probably transport and niche ASW.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago

Eventually yes, but currently there aren’t any off the shelf drones that are big enough to carry the radar and equipment required to replace crossnest or enough sonar boys/weapons to do ASW. In the meantime manned helicopters will be used and probably used for another decade or two, which means the lack of air frames is an issue.

Additionally the bigger the drones get the more expensive they become and therefore the cost savings over manned options start to vanish.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Jamie
Jamie
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Two E3-Ds were at Akrotiri for a while, One flew back over a week ago and one is still at Akrotiri (ZH101) – I guess if they are tagging along we’ll see them fly to Al Udeid in the coming days.

Paul42
Paul42
1 month ago
Reply to  Jamie

Yes, I believe that might be the plan. I haven’t seen any of the Crowsnest Merlins on deck in any of the pics since QE actually sailed so far, only in the hangar. If E3Ds are watching over her, it begs the question of whether Crowsnest is actually in use?

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul42
James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

Why take it and not use it? Maybes they just have not released any pictures of it flying or on deck for a few security reasons.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

We know E3Ds were sent to protect the QE following what happened to HMS Defender, the deployment was confirmed by official sources. What we don’t know is why they were needed and why crowsnest wasn’t up to the job.

The problem with E3D is range, it needs to be on station when it gets to the carrier for a long time and having to use a most of its fuel to get there in the first place is an issue and we don’t have enough of them to keep rotating them in and out to ensure 24/7 coverage.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Pete
Pete
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

I know it’s unlikely, but any potential they are testing what the crowsnest sees relative to what the E3D sees in cluttered East Med/ Syrian environment?

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete

We will never know. They could have been there to test capabilities in a preplanned excercie or could have been sent to counter a potential threat that had been identified.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
30 days ago
Reply to  Steve

The E3 will not be flying in circles above the carrier. It will taking part in some of the exercises the F35’s are involved in, and wider tasking in the middle East. And possibly some trials work with the Merlins.

Keith Bratley
Keith Bratley
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul42

3 Crowsnest are on board according to the latest issue of Air forces Monthly.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  Keith Bratley

Is three Merlin’s enough to provide 24/7 coverage or are they just there for testing purposes?

Andy a
Andy a
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

No but it’s only a pre ioc version

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
30 days ago
Reply to  Steve

24/7 coverage is only required if we are at war. And even then we are networked in with other coalition assets. You need the assets in the air when they are needed, not just flying around in circles looking at empty airspace.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Hey Spain, have you seen our new Gibraltar Patrol boat.

Keep off the grass!

Springer
Springer
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Ha! Pity the new ones aren’t ready yet, probably could have stowed them in the sponsons and delivered them.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

 😊 

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

The futures bright the futures dark blue. I know we’ve all got complaints about what our Navy should/would/could have. But compared to any time in the last god knows how many decades the future of the fleet is bright. Be happy people or try to.

Last edited 1 month ago by David Steeper
dan
dan
1 month ago

Did the Spanish boats come out to welcome her? lol

Lusty
Lusty
1 month ago
Reply to  dan

Unless they can time travel, no, they haven’t come out to visit her yet. 😉

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
1 month ago
Reply to  Lusty

 🙄 

Andrew D
Andrew D
1 month ago

Navy getting about abit🌏

Jake
Jake
1 month ago

Anyone know how many escorts are sailing with HMS Prince of Wales?
Also, not sure if PoW can operationally take F-35s just yet but could be interesting to see if a few from QE will fly there and back just to show inter carrier capability…

geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  Jake

I should imagine she will be only nominally escorted. When QE visited first time round she looked to be very lonely with an almost clean flat top. Hope PoW will will at least have some choppers with all her complement on top and in view, otherwise watch out for the “no planes” brigade bleating in the Mail online 😮 

Meirion X
Meirion X
1 month ago
Reply to  Jake

HMS Lancaster, seem to have left port in a hurry two days ago, could have been to follow PoW?

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago

The Donkey’s Flipflop will be delighted, even if the Spanish aren’t.  😂 

Its good to see the second carrier progressing, I’ll be curious to see what state of readiness the ‘stood down’ carrier is in once they’re both fully in service.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

A pub – I should have guessed  😃 

Springer
Springer
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Get ashore for a few pints of CSB followed by some JCs (if they still have that!)

Andy P
Andy P
1 month ago
Reply to  Springer

They still had the JC’s last time I was there about 6 years ago for an old oppo’s leaving run. Like most matelots (I guess) I’ve got a lot of fond memories of Gib.

Springer
Springer
30 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

My first “foreign” run ashore, as a young JRO, drinking JCs then trying to stumble back onboard!

Andy P
Andy P
30 days ago
Reply to  Springer

Greetings from a fellow (ex) RO. It took me about 6 trips to Gib to make it up the hill, too many distractions both sides of the border.

Springer
Springer
30 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

We had to do the rock race once, whole comms dept went for it, everyone apart from those on duty the day before were hanging out of our a***s, took us hours to get up there!

Andy P
Andy P
30 days ago
Reply to  Springer

You skimmers live like barbarians on a jolly, if its not a four or five star hotel (with subbies) and only setting foot down the boat when you’re joots then its a no from me.  😂 

Springer
Springer
30 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

 😄 

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

It will be interesting to see how the PoW is used once she is declared operational. There have been a lot of comments, including from 1SL, that she will be used for experimental work. I cannot see her being entirely utilised in this manner so I would expect to see her operating in other roles, such as: Amphibious helicopter ops; Air wing training; Frontline carrier when HMS QE is in refit. It could be that she has a wider range of tasks than the ‘frontline’ carrier, especially if the RN gets to carry out experimental flying of combined F35 /… Read more »

David Rushton
David Rushton
1 month ago

It is so good to have a good powerful may and full military capabilities, I have been following the development of our two carriers very closely and am proud we have rebuilt a military power, not to go out picking fights but to be a deterrent and good ally to our friends.

Leslie Leveson
Leslie Leveson
1 month ago

It is good to see the white ensign flying proudly as the Royal Navy makes it presence once more with state of modern design and technology being the Prince of Wales
Probably Commander Rasputin will have issued orders to carry out snoop activities
With the world powers creating instability i would like to see another carrier being built.

Alan Reid
Alan Reid
1 month ago

The last time an HMS Prince of Wales visited Gibraltar was September 1941, during Malta convoy escort duties.

I can’t resist a link to the past!

Nic
Nic
1 month ago

Surely POW will have some type of aircraft on board for her visit to Gib and a full crew.