NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
HMS Prince of Wales Sets Sail After Year-Long Repairs
By Sea and Coast | 04/09/2023
HMS Prince of Wales, the troubled aircraft carrier, has finally embarked on its journey to the United States after a lengthy period of repairs, as confirmed by the Royal Navy.
This $4 billion carrier, the most expensive warship ever built for Britain, encountered significant challenges since its delivery in 2019. In August 2022, it was scheduled to depart Portsmouth and head across the Atlantic for joint exercises with the U.S. Navy, marking its first high-profile deployment. However, shortly after leaving port, technical issues forced the carrier to drop anchor. A subsequent inspection revealed a coupling failure on the starboard shaft, causing extensive damage to both the shaft and propeller.
Following a wait for an exceptionally high tide, the HMS Prince of Wales was returned to drydock for the extraction of the damaged shaft and subsequent repairs. The scale and cost of the operation increased when inspectors discovered similar issues with the port-side shaft. Consequently, the Royal Navy decided to undertake repairs on both shafts as a precautionary measure. This delay pushed back the carrier's return to service until the fall of 2023.
The moment has now arrived, and the HMS Prince of Wales is en route to the United States. During its deployment off the U.S. East Coast, it will collaborate with the U.S. Navy to conduct trials involving attack drones, pushing the boundaries of F-35 launch and recovery conditions, and gaining more experience with the MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
Captain Richard Hewitt, the Commanding Officer, expressed excitement about the carrier's longest deployment and its pioneering role in operating with advanced drones. This deployment will play a crucial role in preparing for the next major Carrier Strike Group deployment scheduled for 2025.
The air wing will test the Mojave drone, capable of carrying a 1,500-pound payload of missiles, rockets, or bombs, designed for short runway or flight deck operations. Additionally, they will trial a drone system for underway replenishment, with the capacity to transport up to 100 kilograms of goods per trip, potentially reducing costly helicopter flight time if successful.