Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier receives fuel for first time

Photo: Royal Navy

The future Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales has taken fuel on board for the first time to test its systems.

500 tons of marine diesel – which represents 15 per cent of HMS Prince of Wales’ capacity according to the Royal Navy – have been pumped onto the carrier to test the tanks, pipes, and sampling system.

Looking after that amount of fuel is considerably harder than most people might think. If left alone marine diesel can provide an attractive environment for micro-biological growth (or MBG).

Infected fuel can damage the 36MW Rolls-Royce Gas Turbines or Wartsila Diesel Generators, while removing the growth is no easy task, with tanks requiring emptying and chemically cleaning.

This is why the crew practiced “fuel management” as part of the process. The fuel was first inspected by a services engineer who approved it for use in the ship’s engines while a second main test timed the fuel as it passed through a filter; the faster it passes through, the cleaner it is. Finally, a fuel sample is also sent away for analysis by a laboratory, whose experts advise the RN on the chemical make-up of the fuel.

HMS Prince of Wales is the second of two new Royal Navy aircraft carriers delivered by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA), a partnering relationship between the British industry and the defense ministry.

The 65,000-ton ship was launched in December 2017 at Rosyth and is expected to start to sea trials in 2019.

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