Britain's second giant aircraft carrier took a major step today from being a collection of steel to active warship, as she was formally christened at the Rosyth shipyard. In a ceremony dating back centuries, the Duchess of Cornwall pressed a button to release a bottle of 10-year-old whisky to break against the hull of the 65,000-tonne (71,650-ton) vessel.

The audience at the hour-long christening included the ship's commander Captain Steve Moorhouse, Britain's oldest sailor, the Prince of Wales, the ship's company, the builders, and surviving veterans from the previous Prince of Wales, which was a King George V-class battleship sunk by Japanese bombers in 1941.

Though now formally named, HMS Prince of Wales will be spending at least six months at No. 1 drydock while being fitted out, and her crew trained in her operation and maintenance. According to the Royal Navy, it took 51 million man hours to assemble the 17 million parts that make up one of the two largest ships ever built for the Navy.

Her sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, recently completed sea trials before arriving at her new homeport at Portsmouth. Both carriers are expected to enter full service early in the next decade when their F-35b fighter planes and aircrews are ready to take to sea. However, it's hoped that lessons learned from building the Queen Elizabeth will speed up the commissioning process.

"Wherever Prince of Wales travels – at home or overseas – she will draw crowds to the water's edge where they will marvel at your achievement," said First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

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