The Duchess of Rothesay today pressed a button to formally name the UK’s second new carrier.
The ship’s sponsor – better known south of the border as the Duchess of Cornwall – triggered the launch of a ten-year-old bottle of whisky from the Laphroaig distillery on the Isle of Islay and 65,000-tonne HMS Prince of Wales was officially named.
During an hour-long ceremony in Rosyth, where the leviathan has been pieced together like her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth, the efforts of the 10,000 souls involved in building the ship were praised; the construction of the carrier has been among the greatest engineering challenges British industry has risen to.
“Wherever Prince of Wales travels – at home or overseas – she will draw crowds to the water’s edge where they will marvel at your achievement,” First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones declared.
The ship, which will not be floated out of the gigantic No.1 dock at Rosyth until next spring, comprises more than 17 million parts. To date, construction the two ships have devoured 51 million man hours – enough to keep one person occupied for more than 5,800 years…
Hoping to take Prince of Wales to sea rather sooner than that is her very first Commanding Officer, announced this week, Captain Steve Moorhouse, who’s previously been in charge of helicopter carrier Ocean and frigate Lancaster.
Capt Moorhouse said, “Seeing our sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth make her debut in Portsmouth last month was an amazing sight and I look forward to one day bringing HMS Prince of Wales home to the same warm welcome.
“Until then the ship’s company in Rosyth will continue to grow and they have much to be proud of in all the work they have done so far, working with our civilian industry partners to bring this ship to life,” he continued.
The 900ft ship will be the eighth in the Royal Navy to bear the name HMS Prince of Wales; it was most recently carried by a King George V-class battleship whose life was brief, eventful, tragic.
In an active career lasting not seven months, she was badly damaged while tackling Hitler’s flagship Bismarck, took Prime Minister Churchill across the Atlantic to meet President Roosevelt, and was sunk in December 1941 in company with battle-cruiser HMS Repulse in a failed bid to thwart Japanese aggression in the Far East.
Only a handful of men are still alive from that fateful encounter; one is Christopher Peacey from Alverstoke, Gosport, now 93 and one of the VIP guests at today’s ceremony who conceded he never thought he would see another vessel to bear his old ship’s name.
But he did – and the fact that he did was, said the First Sea Lord, a signal that Britain was committed to remaining a key player on the world stage.
“If building one carrier is a statement of national ambition; then building two is an unmistakable sign of commitment, to our own defence and that of our allies,” Admiral Jones continued.
“Alone, either one of these vessels would be a formidable expression of military might. But together, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales send a powerful message to friend and foe alike.
“We may live in uncertain times, but the United Kingdom has lost none of its famous resolve. We will protect our interests, we will support our allies, and we will shoulder our responsibilities, wherever in the world they are at stake.”