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HMS Prince of Wales departs for NATO exercise ‘Steadfast Defender 2024'

HMS Prince of Wales departs Portsmouth Harbour on 12 February to take part in Exercise ‘Steadfast Defender 2024' with NATO partners off the coast of Norway. (Crown Copyright)

The UK Royal Navy's (RN's) second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales sets sail from Portsmouth on 12 February bound for northern Norway where it will lead an international task group in the NATO Exercise ‘Steadfast Defender 2024'.

Prince of Wales will participate in the exercise in place of HMS Queen Elizabeth , which had to be withdrawn from the planned deployment after a last-minute inspection on 2 February uncovered a defect in a propeller shaft coupling.

At the time the defect was discovered, Prince of Wales had entered a period of maintenance and was at 30 days' notice to sail. However, as a result of the change of tasking it has been prepared to sail in just seven days, the RN said.

“In less than a week we have brought on board approximately 70,000 sailors days rations [GBP400,000 (USD504,676) of food], with 450 pallets of stores … not to mention spare parts for F-35 Lightning fighters, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, cold weather kit, and medical stores,” Lieutenant Commander Chris Barnett, Prince of Wales' logistics officer, said.

Exercise ‘Steadfast Defender 2024' has been billed as the largest NATO exercise to take place in Europe since the Cold War and involves more than 20,000 UK military personnel alone, deployed across Scandinavia and northern Europe.

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