Aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales leaves dry dock after repairs

Royal Navy / Crown copyright

The British Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales moved out of dry dock on July 21, 2023, following an extensive nine-month refit.  

The 65,000-ton aircraft carrier, which was commissioned in December 2019, has faced a challenging journey since its admission into active service. The vessel has spent nearly twice as much time in shipyards, amounting to a total of 515 days, as it has spent at sea, which accounts for 267 days of mission. 

In August 2022, two days after it left the port of Portsmouth for the Westland 22 exercise with the US Navy, the US Marine Corps, and the Royal Canadian Navy, the aircraft carrier suffered a failure of its starboard propeller shaft line. On October 12, 2022, the warship returned to Rosyth Dockyard where it was originally constructed. 

The Royal Navy used this long period of immobilization to perform “significant capability enhancements” to the vessel, though without specifying their nature. The ship will now undergo a series of tests before it can rejoin the British fleet. 

Once the tests are successfully completed, the HMS Prince of Wales is scheduled to journey to the United States in the coming autumn. This transatlantic voyage will undoubtedly serve as a testament to the vessel’s renewed capabilities and the skill of its dedicated crew. 

“We are returning HMS Prince of Wales to operations as the most advanced warship ever built for the Royal Navy,” Captain Richard Hewitt, HMS Prince of Wales’ Commanding Officer, said in a press release. “This year we will be operating F-35s, V-22 Ospreys, drones and the RN Merlin helicopters – pushing the boundaries of naval aviation and UK Carrier Strike capability as we progress towards a global deployment in 2025.” 

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