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UK carrier takes on NRF afloat command role

HMS Prince of Wales has assumed the afloat command role for the NRF Maritime Component (Richard Scott/NAVYPIX)

The UK Royal Navy (RN) aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales has assumed the role of afloat command ship for the NATO Response Force (NRF) Maritime Component.

The RN assumed command of the NRF from the French Navy on 1 January; a formal transfer of command ceremony was held on board Prince of Wales in Portsmouth Naval Base on 11 January.

The NRF Maritime Component is the alliance's high readiness multinational naval force. As afloat command ship, Prince of Wales will be maintained at high readiness to deploy in support of NATO exercises and operations throughout the year. The ship's current programme includes participation in Exercise ‘Cold Response 2022' off Norway in March and early April, exercises in the Baltic mid-year, and a deployment into the Mediterranean later in 2022.

Prince of Wales , which was declared fully operational at the end of September 2021, will operate as NRF command ship throughout 2022. The ship, which is expected to spend more than 200 days at sea during the course of the year, sailed from Portsmouth on 12 January to begin a three-week training period.

According to Captain Steve Higham, commanding officer of Prince of Wales , the ship's NATO tasking is very much in contrast to 2021's Carrier Strike Group (CSG21) deployment led by sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth . “It's very different … the two pillars of the [UK's] Integrated Review for the [Ministry of Defence] to deliver [were] Global Britain and support to the security of the Euro-Atlantic area.

Queen Elizabeth's

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