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HMS Prince of Wales returns to Portsmouth before Atlantic deployment

The UK Royal Navy's HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier returned to its home port of Portsmouth on 4 August 2023 following preparations for deployment across the Atlantic. (Crown Copyright)

The UK's HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier returned to its home port of Portsmouth on 4 August following post-repair trials and preparations for deployment across the Atlantic, the Royal Navy (RN) announced on its website later the same day. The carrier will participate in the ‘Westlant 23' deployment off the east coast of the United States.

The RN announced on 25 July that Prince of Wales had completed repairs and upgrades at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland. The repairs were to the carrier's starboard shaft coupling damaged in August 2022 because of its misalignment caused by “the incorrect installation of key components”, according to a 3 April letter on the non-statutory inquiry into Prince of Wales ' propulsion system failure from then Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Member of Parliament (MP) Alex Chalk to Tobias Ellwood MP, the chair of the UK House of Commons Defence Committee.

Planned enhancements conducted in parallel included upgrades to the carrier's flight deck to allow expanded F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, updates to communications and information systems, and upgrades to the carrier's combat management system architecture, Chalk wrote.

During the trials that followed, the carrier's flight deck was reopened for F-35Bs and Chinook and Merlin helicopters. In addition, Prince of Wales was replenished at sea with diesel and aviation fuel by Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Tidesurge. During ‘Westland 23', the carrier will operate F-35Bs, US V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and RN Merlin helicopters.

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