HMS Prince of Wales, the second of two aircraft carriers designed and constructed for the Royal Navy, sailed into her home port of Portsmouth Naval Base for the first time today (Saturday, November 16).
According to Aircraft Carrier Alliance, the arrival marked an 'important and proud milestone' for everyone who has worked on the Queen Elizabeth Class programme across the UK.
A spokesperson added: "Hundreds of people, including industry employees, Royal Navy personnel and their families, gathered along the Portsmouth shoreline to welcome the ship to her new home, following the successful completion of her first stage sea trials nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.
"The ship’s arrival into Portsmouth represents the culmination of 16 years of work by the ACA – a unique alliancing relationship between BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales, and the UK Ministry of Defence.
"More than 10,000 people across the UK have been involved in the programme to deliver the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, with six British shipbuilding yards across the country playing a vital role in the ships’ design and construction."
Sir Simon Lister, managing director at Aircraft Carrier Alliance, said: “Today is an important day for our employees and the Royal Navy.
"Delivering next generation naval capability of this complexity is not only a proud moment for our employees but also showcases the industrial capability within the UK.
"This programme has brought together the best of British imagination, ingenuity and invention and I am extremely proud of our teams who have shown relentless drive, energy and a continued focus on ensuring we deliver the very best for the Royal Navy.”
Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive, BAE Systems, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the role that BAE Systems has played in this national endeavour.
"The arrival of HMS Prince of Wales into Portsmouth is an important moment for everyone at BAE Systems, our industrial partners and the thousands of people in the supply chain across the country who have worked so hard to deliver the two Queen Elizabeth Class carriers which will protect our national interests for decades to come.”
Archie Bethel, Babcock chief executive, said it was a 'remarkable programme for everyone involved', delivering the 'UK’s two largest warships ever' into Royal Navy service.
“Today marks a very proud and historic moment for everyone in Babcock and the rest of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, as the second in class, HMS Prince of Wales enters Portsmouth and is handed over to the Royal Navy," he said.
"Working collaboratively, the ACA has successfully managed the programme over the last decade, with a dedicated and skilled workforce who had one aim in mind – delivering two great, state-of-the-art flagships for the Royal Navy, which I think we can all agree has been achieved.
"Our collective thanks, pride and best wishes will always travel with the crews of both Queen Elizabeth Class carriers wherever their duty takes them.”
Victor Chavez, chief executive of Thales in the UK, said all Thales employees involved in the 'iconic British engineering programme' should feel a 'sense of pride'.
He added: "It’s been a fantastic challenge to be part of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance from the beginning and an excellent example of industry working with the Ministry of Defence to deliver these world-leading ships. We congratulate HMS Prince of Wales on this landmark occasion.”
Designed to test the carrier’s capability, HMS Prince of Wales and her ship’s company have accomplished a number of trials and ‘firsts’ over the past nine weeks at sea, including the landing of a Merlin Mk2 and a test of her engines at full power, according to the spokesman.
He said: "The sea trials programme tested all 158 essential systems on the ship which includes power and propulsion, radars, communications and essential hotel and platform services.
"More than £100m has been spent updating and enhancing the facilities at Her Majesty's Naval Base, Portsmouth, including an upgrade to the Princess Royal Jetty which will be home to both carriers.
"A new Combined Heat and Power facility has also been established to deliver power to the carriers, increase energy resilience and reduce the carbon footprint of the Base. Made up of three natural gas generators, at full load, the facility can produce enough energy to power 28,000 homes.
"The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are the largest, most capable and powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK, each providing our armed forces with a four acre military operating base. Once fully operational, the ships will provide the forward deployed base for the UK’s F-35B aircraft, delivering an uncompromising carrier strike capability to the UK’s armed forces anywhere in the world."