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HMS Prince of Wales’ engineers have it all in hand

22 June 2018
The eternal watch has begun aboard HMS Prince of Wales.

For the next 50 years – except for periods when the new carrier is in deep refit – someone will always be keeping an eye on her machinery.

Just days after the Ship Control Centre was handed over to sailors to operate, POET(ME) Liam ‘Soapy’ Watson and ET(ME) Nicholas Shepheard flashed up the systems and began to monitor breakdowns and problems.

The first of the many facets of the marine engineering department to go online – chilled water plants, vital for everything from the air conditioning system which makes the 65,000-tonne vessel habitable, to prevent the many computers, drives and processors from overheating.

This is a real highlight of my career so far – to think that my opposite numbers will be keeping watch for 50 years and to know that I’m the first

POET(ME) Liam Watson

The plants are running 24/7… which means they have to be monitored 24/7 by the marine engineering department.

“This is a real highlight of my career so far – to think that my opposite numbers will be keeping watch for 50 years and to know that I’m the first,” said Liam, who’s using his watchkeeping experience to mentor Nicholas.

“I’ve developed a bond with HMS Prince of Wales as the work I’ve done for trials and commissioning systems contributed to my selection for promotion to chief petty officer.

“I’ve been here since 2016, so it’s hard not to feel attached to our ship especially as she comes to life.”

The marine engineers are gradually bringing the department to life, system by system, allowing the watchkeepers to build up experience as they learn how to operate machinery which is 40 years more advanced than the UK’s previous carriers.

“We are working alongside the Future Training Unit and HMS Sultan in developing the training programmes for the Queen Elizabeth Class, but in the interim we have to make sure our department is ready and safe to proceed to sea,” said Lt James Baddeley, the ship’s senior watchkeeper, responsible for training the marine engineering department.

“People like PO Watson have been here for some time working with industry in the testing and commissioning team and have in-depth technical knowledge already.”

“The sooner our equipment comes online the sooner we can train up newer members of the department.”

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