Inside HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy’s greatest warship
- Britain’s greatest warship is ending a deployment to the east coast of America
- Keeping the $4 billion vessel fed, watered and powered is a mammoth process
- DailyMail.com was taken on a tour whereas U.S. Ospreys landed on her flight deck
You can inform the day of the week by the menu. If it is Friday, it is fish and chips for lunch, Saturday is steak night time however woe betide anybody who tries to dispose of the British sailor’s Sunday roast.
Just ask Capt. Richard Hewitt, commander of the Royal Navy’s latest plane service, H.M.S. Prince of Wales.
On a current cease in Mayport, Florida, temperatures had been within the 90s. Who would desire a hearty slab of meat and gravy on a day like that? British sailors, it turned out, who turned their noses up on the concept of another chilly menu.
‘We will not be doing that once more,’ mentioned Hewitt with a chuckle.
It could also be a fifth technology service, kitted out with the most recent autonomous techniques and the form of residing lodging that places some New York lodges to disgrace, however the wealthy historical past of the Royal Navy runs by a ship that’s the sixth to be named ‘Prince of Wales’ in a line stretching again to 1765.
DailyMail.com reporter Rob Crilly spent an evening aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales
The first view of H.M.S. Prince of Wales for guests arriving in a U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon
Getting aboard was an journey in itself.
With the ship 100 miles or so off the North Carolina coast throughout November, it meant pulling on an unflattering orange survival swimsuit at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia.
Five hardy guests then climbed on to a U.S. Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon for the one-hour flight, with baggage wrapped in plastic to guard towards the ageing helicopter’s leaky hydraulics. (It’s when it stops leaking that it’s important to fear, was the operating joke.)
Fifty minutes later the huge mass of the Prince of Wales got here into view. The grey form of the USS James E. Williams destroyer lurked within the distance, enjoying escort.
Setting foot on deck, the primary impression was the apparent one. This is a giant, huge warship. It is probably not the dimensions of a U.S. service, however at 920ft lengthy and greater than 70,000 tons it reveals Britain desires to keep up its place as a maritime energy.
Unlike U.S. carriers there aren’t any ‘cats and traps,’ the catapults that launch planes and the wires that arrest them as they land. Instead the deck is designed for vertical landings, plus a ramp for takeoffs.
Once on board, guests get a security briefing. The most important takeaway? Don’t suppose you’re a seadog who can slide down ladders with ankles hooked over the railing like within the films. That is the quickest strategy to a damaged bone.
‘Three factors of contact always,’ is the recommendation.
Then it was up a set of ladders to see the captain in his cabin, surrounded on three sides by home windows, wanting down on the ship’s flight deck and out throughout the North Atlantic Ocean.
‘One of the perks of the job,’ mentioned Hewitt, as a U.S. Marine Corps Osprey – the uniquely formed tilt-rotor plane – might be seen maneuvering in to land.
Visitors don orange survival fits earlier than boarding a U.S. Navy helicopter for the experience from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, throughout the North Atlantic Ocean to the ship
The Royal Navy’s HMS Prince of Wales, Britain’s latest and largest plane service, sits off the coast of the United States on November 15, 2023
The ship bears the Prince of Wales’ coat of arms, with the motto ‘Ich Dien,’ or ‘I serve’
Capt. Richard Hewitt reveals guests round his cabin, with its assortment of momentoes
The captain’s assortment of problem cash. H.M.S. Prince of Wales arrived off the U.S. coast in September, and has been working with American pilots to broaden the ship’s capabilities
Coffee is served within the captain’s cabin for guests getting a tour of the ship. In 2025 the Prince of Wales will sail for the Indo-Pacific the place tensions with China are operating excessive
The cabin is stuffed with souvenirs from American models: problem cash cowl a facet board and patches from visiting models are displayed on a round desk.
This is the seventh Royal Navy ship to bear the identify ‘Prince of Wales.’
And the connections with historical past are in every single place. Hewitt has a chunk of shrapnel from the German battleship Bismarck, which exchanged fireplace with an earlier Prince of Wales throughout World War Two.
Hewitt is eager to level out that that is probably the most fashionable of warships.
‘We discuss concerning the F-35 as fifth technology,’ he says, speaking concerning the warplane that has been put by its paces on the flight deck beneath his home windows, ‘however that is fifth technology too, constructed for the way the modern-day sailor lives, eats and breaths.’
The vessel is smaller than the most recent U.S. supercarriers. But the British crew is pleased with its automated techniques, that they are saying permit it to function with extra effectivity and fewer manpower.
It nonetheless has to assist 1,032 individuals (as of Thursday – however that would go as much as 1600 individuals when totally geared up with 36 F-35s plus helicopters).
That means 288 bathrooms, mills and engines producing 110 Megawatts of electrical energy (sufficient to energy the English city of Swindon, they are saying, which is roughly the dimensions of Des Moines, Iowa) and desalination vegetation that ship 500 tons of water a day.
Inside the captains quarters aboard the Royal Navy’s HMS Prince of Wales plane service, Britain’s latest and largest plane service
Kitchen govt Chief Petty Officer Ross Barnett is accountable for 4000 meals a day
If it is Saturday it is steak night time. You can inform the day of the week by the menu
Pork chops are ready inside one of many huge kitchens, that in complete produce 4,000 meals every single day for the crew and visitors aboard the large vessel
In the galleys, which means 100 catering workers are churning out three meals day.
Just one of many galleys, serving officers and senior charges (or enlisted sailors) will get by 1000lb of potatoes a day.
Chief Petty Officer Ross Barnett, who runs the kitchens, identified trays of oxtail within the meat preparation space. They are for a Caribbean night time.
The catering staff has members from St. Vincent and the thought is to honor its current independence day.
‘We actually attempt to faucet into everybody’s expertise and information, he mentioned, including that youthful members of the staff have nudged the older meat-and-two-veg technology into the twenty first Century.
So Caribbean night time will characteristic oxtail, curried goat and roti. There may be Guinness punch too.
But his inside tip on Thursday was to get the lasagne at dinner. ‘It’s all the time successful,’ he added.
At the middle of the bridge, Olivia Ryder-Maddocks, 22, is steering the ship
The sick bay includes a totally kitted out dental surgical procedure, in addition to an working theater and physician’s surgical procedure
A sailor was dressed as much as resemble a burns sufferer throughout an emergency drill
Fire crews coaching throughout an train aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales on Thursday
If the bridge is the eyes of the ship then the Ship’s Control Center is its coronary heart, operating all of the techniques wanted to maintain the floating metropolis operating
HMS Prince of Wales: The numbers behind colossal plane service
Cost: £3.2 billion (up from £3billion)
Weight: 65,000 tonnes
Crew: 1,600 when totally useful.
Dimensions: More than 900ft lengthy and 230ft large
Speed: Top velocity of 28 mph. Capable of travelling 500 miles a day.
Fighter jets: 36 F35-B Lightning IIs, introduced up from under in 60 seconds
Weapons: Weapon system able to firing 3,000 rounds per minute.
Radars: Long-range monitoring of 1,000 aerial targets from 250 nautical miles; medium vary radars can observe a ball-sized goal from 12 miles out.
The Prince of Wales has been off the east coast since September. The most important job has been to broaden the circumstances underneath which totally different plane can function.
The previous week has meant two Ospreys from a U.S. check squadron have been taking off and touchdown, increasing what they name the S.H.O.L. or ship helicopter working limits.
On the bridge it means tweaking the velocity and path of the 72,000-ton vessel in order that the Osprey lands into totally different wind circumstances.
And remarkably, for anybody anticipating a grizzled sailor to be on the wheel, that job falls to 22-year-old Olivia Ryder-Maddocks, the quartermaster.
Beside her, the primary officer of the watch holds his place on the heart of the bridge, appearing because the receiver of updates and data from all throughout the ship, whereas one other 22-year-old ‘has the conn’ — accountable for management rudder and engine.
For such an enormous, costly piece of equipment, it’s an awfully younger staff.
‘If you may move the coaching, you are able to do the driving,’ mentioned Lt. James Holton, second navigator.
At the identical time, he added, the captain’s cabin is one deck down. ‘And the navigator, accountable for conduct of the bridge, is 10 meters that means,’ he mentioned pointing behind him.
By now, the solar was setting. And at 7.30pm it was dinner time within the type of heapings of lamb lasagne.
Gone are the times of white gloved stewards ready on officers. Instead it’s a canteen model self-serve affair.
Flying operations are run from the air visitors management tower within the aft island, the second of the 2 islands on the ship. The ahead island holds the bridge and captain’s cabin
An American MV-22 Osprey, from check squadron HX-21, comes into land on the flight deck with its distinctive tilt-rotor design. The testing is all a part of extending the Royal Navy’s capabilities
The deck is coated with paint that may face up to the 2700F temperatures produced by the F35 stealth fighters engine as they take off and land
A ‘folded up’ Osprey on the flight deck. Part of the checks embrace figuring out the place it may well park
Two crews of fireplace fighters are on deck whereas the Ospreys takes off and land
Journalists are transported again to mainland USA on a Merlin helicopter after seeing Royal Navy operations aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales
But some perks stay. After dinner, officers restore to the wardroom for a beer or a glass of wine underneath the watchful eye of Queen Elizabeth II. Like embassies and different authorities places of work, the ship is ready for the official portrait of King Charles III to be issued earlier than changing their earlier commander-in-chief.
American warships are dry. But sailors within the Royal Navy had been lengthy entitled to a rum ration earlier than it was abolished in 1970 amid well being and security issues. And they nonetheless allowed a few cans of beer, until they’re on watch.
Either means, sailors make their very own leisure when they’re away from dwelling for weeks at a time.
On the Prince of Wales, there are golf equipment for studying languages, a band (The Lazy Sundays) that performs events, two spin courses a day, in addition to pop-up boxing ring and dojo within the plane hangar, for one thing a bit extra energetic.
All too quickly, the go to was over. During the night time (spent comfortably in a cabin reserved for senior officers) the ship had sailed nearer to land to make the journey again to Norfolk quicker.
After a breakfast of bacon, eggs and British bangers it was time for an additional security briefing earlier than boarding a Royal Navy Merlin, a helicopter designed for submarine warfare, for the hop again to Norfolk.
This time there have been no survival fits. Unlike the U.S. Navy, it appeared the Royal Navy thought the water off Virginia and North Carolina in November was not chilly sufficient to fret about.