Skip to content
Recruiting now.Explore navy careers

Uncle Sam meets the Prince of Wales as carrier debuts Stateside

HMS Prince of Wales arrives in Mayport
22 September 2023
Britain’s biggest warship has arrived in the USA ready to begin an autumn of trials pushing the boundaries of 21st Century carrier operations.

HMS Prince of Wales sailed into the US Navy base at Mayport in Florida ready to embark the equipment, supplies and stores vital to supporting F-35 Lightning operations for the first stage of three trial periods involving crewed and uncrewed aircraft.

When she departs the base, US Lightnings will join the carrier for a series of exhaustive trials to push the operating limits of the stealth fighter/Queen Elizabeth-class combination, increasing the carriers’ punch and ability to carry out strike missions in ever-harsher weather conditions.

The British carrier left UK waters earlier this month after drone trials off Cornwall. The ship’s company have used the ten-day passage to train and hone skills, particularly on the flight deck: firefighting/crash exercises, moving Merlin and Wildcat helicopters around, refuelling etc, as well as sea boat ops, quick draw self-defence exercises and more.

Thanks to her navigator and meteorologists she’s evaded the autumn storms swirling up the Eastern Seaboard of the USA.

Taking advantage of those storm-free seas she linked up with the US Navy for the first time on the other side of the Atlantic, taking on board fuel from USNS Supply from US Military Sealift Command, which is the US Navy’s counterpart to the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

More than 110,000 tonnes of military grey sailed side-by-side in synchronised harmony, (or ‘synchronized’ and ‘gray’ if you’re American…) as the oiler transferred fuel.

The replenishment was as much about honing drills with an ally than topping up the carrier’s tanks – HMS Prince of Wales will be availing herself of US support and hospitality for the next two months.

Alongside in Mayport, the carrier’s Commanding Officer Captain Richard Hewitt invited UK Consul General Rufus Drabble aboard as guest of honour for an official reception which concluded with a ceremonial Sunset.

Following the F-35 trials, the aviation experimentation continues. A Mojave drone will conduct maiden trials with the ship – the Royal Navy’s first foray into armed uncrewed aircraft – and host the impressive MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors for further training with the US Marine Corps.

Related articles

Navy News Magazine

We bring you the latest news, features and award-winning photographs from the front-line. Navy News has been reporting on all that happens in the Royal Navy and its wider community since 1954.