Britain's Second Aircraft Carrier HMS Prince of Wales Afloat for the First Time
(Source: Royal Navy; issued Dec 21, 2017)
A week after the first British aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elisabeth, was commissioned into the fleet, her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales was floated out from the drydock where she was built at the Rosyth shipyard. (ACA photo)
HMS Prince of Wales has been floated and moved to her fitting-out berth at Rosyth.

In a delicate overnight operation, sluices were opened and water gradually filled the dry dock, specially enlarged for the 65,000-tonne warship and her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The next step is to move the ship from her home for the past three years to the neighbouring basin and J and K berths, where her sister was fitted out before departing on sea trials during the summer.

Crew and engineers from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance monitored the process throughout, while a flotilla of tugs moved the leviathan the short distance to her new berth.

"For me, seeing water surround the ship has really made it transform from being a ship in build to a ship preparing to go to sea," said Sub Lieutenant Freddie Spreckley, who's just joined the ship as a marine engineer after completing his professional training at HMS Sultan in Gosport.

"I was privileged to be one of the last few people to walk underneath the ship before the sluices opened and flooded the dock. It was very exciting - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - to be involved with this engineering milestone in the ship's life and historic moment for the Royal Navy."

Captain Ian Groom, the carrier's Senior Naval Officer, said that the effort made by teams from industry, the Ministry of Defence and the ship's company to reach this milestone had been "immense".

He continued: "It has been a massive team effort and I am proud of every individual contribution. It is a fitting end to the Year of the Navy to have HMS Queen Elizabeth commissioned and HMS Prince of Wales undocked and afloat for the first time.

"As the second of her class, HMS Prince of Wales is of strategic significance ensuring continuous carrier strike capability. Working as one team we are delivering an unmistakable sign of commitment to the defence of our great nation and that of our allies."

Prince of Wales is 3,000 tonnes heavier than her sister was at the same stage - as the second ship in the class, construction and fitting out has moved more swiftly thanks to the lessons learned building HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Originally planned for 2018, the 'undocking' of the carrier took place ahead of schedule and just three months after the carrier was officially named by HRH the Duchess of Rothesay, as the Duchess of Cornwall is titled in Scotland.

The next milestone in the ship's life will be the first running up of the generators and gas turbines, bringing the ship to life, which are earmarked for middle of 2018, followed by sea trials in 2019.

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HMS Prince of Wales Floats Out
(Source: Aircraft Carrier Alliance; issued Dec 21, 2017)
HMS PRINCE OF WALES, the second aircraft carrier being built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance for the Royal Navy, has been successfully floated out of the dock at Rosyth.

In an operation that started earlier this week, the dry dock was filled with water to allow HMS PRINCE OF WALES to float into the waters of the non-tidal basin for the first time. In a two-hour operation, using eight tugs, she was then manoeuvred out of the dock with just 1.5 feet clearance at either side. HMS PRINCE OF WALES is now berthed at a nearby jetty, where the team will continue to outfit the ship and steadily bring her systems to life in preparation for sea trials in 2019.

This latest development in the programme comes just three months after the Duchess of Rothesay formally named the 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier at a ceremony in Rosyth, where the ship has been assembled.

Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin said: "This is an important moment in the monumental programme to build these two magnificent ships. I would like to thank the 10,000 people from across the UK who have helped us make such progress during 2017 on both HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES."

Sir Simon Lister, Managing Director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said: “2017 has been a remarkable year for the 10,000 men and women who have been involved in the design and construction of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers. This milestone marks a significant moment in HMS PRINCE OF WALES’ build programme and I would like to pay tribute to all those who have dedicated their efforts to this great national endeavour.

“The ship is already benefiting from the lessons learned in the construction of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH, which is testament to the skills of the British shipbuilding industry and proves that we still have what it takes to be a great maritime industrial nation.”

Captain Ian Groom, Senior Naval Officer, said: “The effort from our industry colleagues, Ministry of Defence and Naval personnel to get us to this point has been immense. It has been a massive team effort and I am proud of every individual contribution. It is a fitting end to the Year of the Navy to have HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH commissioned and HMS PRINCE OF WALES undocked and afloat for the first time.

“As the second of her class, HMS PRINCE OF WALES is of strategic significance, ensuring continuous carrier strike capability. Working as one team, we are delivering an unmistakable sign of commitment to the defence of our great nation and that of our allies.”

The team at the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, comprising the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Babcock and Thales, is preparing to handover HMS PRINCE OF WALES to the Royal Navy in 2019.

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