The second of the Royal Navy’s giant new aircraft carriers, the 65,000-tonne vessel will be in Liverpool for a week of celebrations to commemorate the naval service’s close ties with the city.
Nearly 13,000 people who successfully applied for free tickets will step onto HMS Prince of Wales on Saturday and Sunday; others will be able to view it from the Cruise Liverpool Terminal.
Here’s why she’s such a draw…
HMS Prince of Wales cost £3 billion to design and build by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, an integrated team formed from Babcock, BAE Systems, Thales UK and the Ministry of Defence. The team is responsible for delivering the Queen Elizabeth class ships to time and cost.
The aircraft carrier was put through sea trials in the Moray Firth and the North Sea in October last year, which included tests of its long-range radar – tracking two Typhoon jets that were flown out of RAF Lossiemouth.
The aim of the carrier is to increase the UK’s defence options by maintaining carrier strike capability and means that one of the warships could be in maintenance with the other in any maritime operation.
HMS Prince of Wales, like her sister warship HMS Queen Elizabeth, is 280 metres long – about the length of two-and-a-half football pitches and longer than the length of the Houses of Parliament.
Her deck is 70 metres wide – about the width of the Pyramid main stage at Glastonbury Festival which could sit comfortably across the deck area of the ship.
She has the latest generation close-in weapon system: the Phalanx gun system is designed as an anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence and is radar controlled, meaning it automatically detects, tracks and engages incoming threats and features a 20mm M61A1cannon with a rate of fire of up to 4,500 shots per minute.
HMS Prince of Wales is also equipped with a host of small-calibre guns which are the ship’s last line of defence against small fast craft, like speedboats or jetskis.
HMS Prince of Wales has two Rolls-Royce Marine Trent gas turbine engines and four Wärtsilä 38 marine diesel engines (the MT30 gas turbines powering both HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth are the most powerful gas turbine engines in operation in the world).
These engines deliver enough power to run about a thousand family cars, with enough energy to power a town of 25,000 people.
The ship’s power generator is a low voltage electrical power distribution system which generates enough energy to power more than five thousand family homes and about 300,000 kettles.
Collectively, the diesel generators produce about 40% of the total power for the carrier – with the Rolls-Royce MT30 main engines generating the rest.
The propellers on HMS Prince of Wales each deliver around 50,000 horsepower.
Rolls-Royce, which manufactured them, says they are the highest power propeller ever produced by the company. Made from nickel aluminium bronze, each of the propeller measures 7m in diameter and weighs 33 tonnes.
Her anchors were built in Norfolk and are about three metres in height, weighing 12,837 and 12,456 kilograms.
This is just one component of the ship, which was constructed across six shipyards around the country with more than 200 British companies supplying vital parts.
The ship’s company is 700 personnel, which will increase to about 1,600 once aircraft are on board.
There are four galleys and four large dining areas on board.
The warship’s chefs serve up to 4,800 meals a day and she holds up to 45 days’ worth of food in her stores.
The food served up in those meals includes 72kgs each of meat and fruit, 200 litres of milk, 400 baguettes, 40 watermelons and 100 litres of soup.
The pantries, fridges and freezers of the carrier are able to hold 12,000 tins of baked beans, enough to fill 38 bath-tubs, and 66,000 sausages, which would stretch four miles if laid end-to-end. The ship’s company gets through about 550ft per day.
She also stores 28,800 rashers of bacon – which weighs about the same as a Porsche Panamera supercar.
The ship boasts a number of training areas and cardio gym which includes an area with spinning bikes, plus a weights room and a boxing training facility.
For physical health and mental, spiritual and religious well-being, she also has a medical centre and a chapel.
The Royal Navy Police Department have service officers on board and they manage a custody area for times when someone aboard needs to be detained.
She is able to carry 36 F35B Lightning II Jets, and up to 40 helicopters.
Like her sister aircraft carrier she expected to embark F35B fast jets as the obvious choice for a carrier strike force but the Crowsnest Maritime surveillance variant of the Merlin Helicopter and the new support ships RFA Tidespring class are expected to be called upon more with the second carrier.
All of the above is under the watchful command of HMS Prince of Wales’ commanding officer Captain Darren Houston, who first joined HMS Queen Elizabeth in January 2016 as The Commander, helping to guide the ship through contractor sea trials and her first deployment to the United States, where trials of the F35B landing and take-offs were carried out.
He was then selected to command HMS Prince of Wales.
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