Royal Navy: rebirth of HMS Prince of Wales, restoration of naval air permanence

La Royal Navy admits its second aircraft carrier into active service on December 10 STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) during a grand ceremony bringing together the two flat decks in Her Majesty's service at the Portsmouth naval base. HMS Prince of Wales marks the rebirth of the battleship which disappeared in 1941 and the restoration of British naval aviation permanence. The British carrier group is complete, HMS Queen Elizabeth to concentrate on the preparation of its first operational mission (2021) which will take place after that of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (2020). France and the United Kingdom offer naval aviation permanence to Europe with three flat bridges.

On December 10, 1941, the battleship HMS disappeared in the waves of the South China Sea. Prince of Wales of style King George V (43 tonnes fully loaded, X x 700 mm) in company with the battlecruiser HMS Repulse (class Renown). They had been sent to counter a Japanese landing in Malaya by attacking convoys. Without air cover. The Japanese torpedo planes and bombers did not need to be asked. This is the first victory of air formations used alone against capital ships.

78 years later, to the day, with an air of defiance, the Royal Navy celebrates admission to active service of HMS Prince of Wales, the second aircraft carrier STOVL of style Queen Elizabeth in the presence, precisely of sister ship eponym: HMS QueenElizabeth. The building was given the framed uniform of Alf Woodhead, survivor of the famous predecessor's sinking.

HMS Prince of Wales could have been named HMS Ark Royal. This was to prevent the name from being lost when the last HMS was decommissioned Ark Royal, that is to say the Invincible class aircraft carrier which served during the Falklands War. This name has been in the Royal Navy since the triumphant fleet of the Invincible Armada. Two aircraft carriers were thus named. A petition was submitted to this effect in 2011 and the Prince of Wales even gave his agreement in principle. But HMS Prince of Wales retained his baptismal name.

HMS Prince of Wales 1941 Defense News | High Intensity War | Military planning and plans
The battleship HMS Prince of Wales was the second building of the King George V class. Admitted to service on January 19, 1941, she was sunk by Japanese aircraft on December 10, 1941. With a displacement of 42 tons at full load, she carried ten 700 mm pieces distributed between two hunting turrets (a quadruple topped by a double) and a quadruple retreating turret.

The new British aircraft carrier was ordered on May 20, 2008 and laid down on May 26, 2011 while the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal of the Invincible class was decommissioned a few weeks earlier (March 11, 2011). The assembly of the blocks manufactured in six sites began on September 9, 2014 in Basin No. 1 of Rosyth. Completion crossed 80% in April 2016. The building was baptized on September 8, 2017 by Camilla Parker Bowles, Duchess of Rothesay and wife of the Prince of Wales. The hull met its element for the first time on December 21, 2017. Dockside completion continued throughout 2018 and into 2019. Sea trials began on September 23, 2019. October 2, 2019 there Royal Navy proclaimed that HMS Prince of Wales had been able to travel at its official maximum speed: more than 25 knots. The tests made it possible to exceed 27 knots to reach 32 knots, which is now its unofficial maximum speed.

The propulsion, integrated electric propulsion type, is very similar to that of the Type 45 destroyers of the class Daring. The power produced by the two gas turbines Trent MT30 de Rolls-Royce Marine (2 x 36 MW) and the four diesel generators 16V38 de Wärtsilä Marine (2 × 8,7 MW + 2 × 11,6 MW) would reach 109 to 112 MW. The gas turbines do not directly drive the two variable pitch propeller shaft lines, this is the role of the four electric propulsion motors of GE Power Conversion which, with their unit power of 20 MW, make it possible to reach the maximum running speed with a power of up to 80 MW. In this case, the on-board network benefits from the rest of the energy produced, i.e. up to 32 MW.

The aircraft carrier STOVL HMS Prince of Wales measures 286 meters compared to 284 meters for the HMS Queen Elizabeth, giving it a hull fineness of 7,33 (compared to 8,3 for the Charles de Gaulle and 8,21 for the CVN-78 USS Gerald R. Ford). The main beam would still be 39 meters at the waterline and 73 meters at the flight deck level. Its light displacement would be around 45 tonnes – the full load displacement of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – and its own displacement at full load would be of the order of 67 tonnes, compared to 700 tonnes for its sister ship.

The self-defense capabilities of Queen Elizabeth boil down to the integration of three systems Phalanx CIWS (30 mm multi-tube cannon) allowing to cover all sectors of the edge and to carry out crossfire on the attackers. A controversy has existed regarding possible inadequacies in this area because aircraft carriers STOVL The British do not even have short-range terminal defense by anti-aircraft missiles, unlike almost all flat bridges in the world.

Its aeronautical facilities are based on a flight deck 284 meters long and 73 meters wide, giving it an area of ​​16 m² (compared to 000 m² on the Charles de Gaulle and 18 m² for the CVN-954 USS Gerald R. Ford). An axial takeoff runway occupies practically the entire length of the flight deck, more or less 265 meters. It is used to use the method Shipborne Rolling and Vertical Landing (SRVL) ensuring the longest stroke for the aircraft to avoid using its reactor for lift as much as possible and therefore allow it to take off with a greater mass. This axial track ends with a springboard occupying only half the width. The flight deck is served by two elevators which can lift up to 70 tonnes, i.e. two F-35B at a time.

Queen Elizabeth class organization of the flight deck Defense News | High Intensity War | Military planning and plans
The organization of the Queen Elizabeth class flight deck is built around areas each receiving a baptismal name. The axial takeoff runway and the associated parking and circulation spaces highlight the limitations of the method in terms of launch rates and the ability to land aircraft during the launch phase of a deck.

The typical embarked air group configuration should have been 36 F-35B supported by 4 helicopters. The maximum configuration (“ arises« ) reaches 60 F-35B, by allowing less efficiency in aircraft rotations between the flight deck and the hangar and therefore a reduced number of daily sorties. Currently, the Royal Air Force has 18 F-35B. In 2023, 42 machines will have been delivered, including 24 intended for operational service and 18 reserved for training missions.

Admission to active service at HMS Prince of Wales leads to the return of naval aviation permanence for the United Kingdom, which had been lost since 2014. Each aircraft carrier STOVL of style Queen Elizabeth is armed by its own crew, effectively allowing a continuous presence at sea of ​​the two vessels, or even simultaneous engagements.

Le Carrier Strike Group (CSG), as it is officially named, will be deployed in 2021 for a major cruise in the Mediterranean, in the Persian Gulf and a passage in the Pacific Ocean as a highlight. The HMS group Queen Elizabeth will include, in addition to a frigate Type 23, a destroyer Type 45 and a class nuclear attack submarine Astute, a typical destroyer Arleigh Burke de l 'US Navy and a Dutch frigate of the class De Zeven Provinciën. In addition to the 24 F-35B for the Royal Air Force, the embarked air group will be supported by a still undetermined number of F-35B de l 'US Marine Corps.

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