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Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales back to UK.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by Forces News on March 26, 2024, the HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy's most substantial aircraft carrier, has returned to Portsmouth following its participation in Steadfast Defender 2024.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 The aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales. (Picture source: UK MoD)

The second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales has traversed a path filled with both significant challenges and notable achievements since its commissioning in 2019.

In May 2020, the ship encountered what was described by the Royal Navy as "minor" flooding, a prelude to a more severe incident in October 2020, where significant flooding damaged her electrical cabling.

Despite these setbacks, the ship departed Portsmouth Naval Base for sea trials on 30 April 2021. By October of the same year, the Royal Navy declared HMS Prince of Wales fully operational, marking a swift recovery and return to readiness.

The ship's operational capabilities were further demonstrated in October 2021 during an international exercise off the coast of Scotland. Here, the HMS Prince of Wales conducted joint operations with her sister ship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth.onal framework.

Elevating its role on the global stage, the HMS Prince of Wales took on the mantle of command ship for NATO's maritime high readiness force on 1 January 2022, succeeding a ship from the French Navy.

This assignment involved supporting NATO exercises across various regions, including the Arctic, Baltic, and Mediterranean seas. The ship's first exercise in this elevated role was Cold Response 22, a Norwegian-led endeavor designed to test the crew's efficiency and adaptability in challenging environments.

However, operational challenges persisted, as evidenced by a malfunction in the starboard propeller shaft external coupling on 27 August 2022, leading to significant mechanical problems. Following a period of repairs and assertions from defense officials regarding the ship's status and future, the HMS Prince of Wales returned to sea for trials on 21 July 2023.

In September 2023, the HMS Prince of Wales embarked on a new phase of operational testing, focusing on the integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for resupply missions.

This initiative included trials with the UK-based W Autonomous Systems and anticipated broader trials in US waters, incorporating platforms such as the MV-22B Osprey and Mojave UAV. A noteworthy achievement came on 15 November 2023, when a General Atomics Mojave UAV successfully completed takeoff and landing on the HMS Prince of Wales.

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