Military

HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier powered up for the first time

HMS Prince of Wales is set to go to sea in 2019
HMS Prince of Wales is set to go to sea in 2019
View 3 Images
HMS Prince of Wales is set to go to sea in 2019
1/3
HMS Prince of Wales is set to go to sea in 2019
HMS Prince of Wales is Britain's second supercarrier
2/3
HMS Prince of Wales is Britain's second supercarrier
The four Wärtsilä diesel generators provide 40 percent of the ship's power
3/3
The four Wärtsilä diesel generators provide 40 percent of the ship's power

With the press of a button, Britain's second supercarrier hit a major milestone as HMS Prince of Wales fired up her engines for the first time. Currently being fitted out at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland, the 65,000-tonne warship's four Wärtsilä diesel generators came online under the supervision of 40 Royal Navy and civilian engineers and pumped out 11 megawatts each, or enough to supply a town of 25,000 people.

One of the two largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and has been under construction since 2011. However, all power used onboard has come either from the dock or portable generators, and until her own power systems come online on a regular basis, the ship is effectively just a floating hunk of steel.

According to the Navy, the Wärtsilä diesels provide forty percent of Prince of Wales' power, with the balance coming from her two Rolls-Royce MT30 main engines that are used for propulsion. When these start work, they'll deliver 40 MW each or enough to supply a town of 80,000 people. Together, the six engines will bring the carrier to life, supplying power to support the ship, the 1,500 crew, 250 Royal Marines, up to 40 F-35B Lightning II fighters, assorted helicopters, radar, and a host of new automated shipboard systems.

"With the first run of HMS Prince of Wales' diesel generators now complete, the ship is truly coming to life on its own systems," says Lieutenant James Sheridan-Browne, the carrier's power and propulsion engineering officer. "The running of diesel generators will now continue to provide a steady drumbeat to sailing the ship to Portsmouth in 2019."

Source: Royal Navy

5 comments
guzmanchinky
Why not nuclear? Wouldn't that be more efficient, quieter, more powerful, less need for refueling, etc? England is a nuclear power and has the resources and ability, or maybe I just don't know what I'm talking about?
DFrancis
@guzmanchinky Right with you on the preference for nuclear. No doubt government nutters reasoned that nuclear is worse than foul dirty diesel.
gbsderm
@guzmanchinky and DFrancis: Unfortunately, GB does NOT have the resources for nuclear. The country barely has the resources to build these ships, let alone make them nuclear. An aircraft carrier force really needs a minimum of 3 ships to maintain a credible threat. The Royal Navy is going to have a difficult time finding the sailors to man the two ships. They will share deck time with US Marine F35s because there are not enough British pilots or aircraft to fill the ship's compliments. Adding the cost of nuclear would have been a bridge too far, cost-wise.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The main reason that ship captains have liked nuclear is instant start. You can literally push a button and knock crew to the deck. If an ICBM is detected you have 15 minutes. Only the nuclear carrier will be able to clear the blast zone.
Ukboaty
I’m believe you are not aware of the reasoning behind the design. Firstly reactor power was considered but rejected for the simple reason that it does not give the flexibility required. Neuclier power is a single source and thus more vulnerable. Apart from the fact battle damage could leave the ship untouchable for years. Whereas the diesel electric configuration allows the power to be placed in a number of areas thereby the ship could still fight. The uk does have the tech for nuclear ship power hence all our submarines are thus powered. But more importantly we have 15 still to deactivate and the problems in doing this is the same for all navies. Also we do not require steam for catapult etc. Which we invented. The philosophy of stol /vtol being proved in the falklands however the design allows for refit if necessary for cats and traps. As far as numbers at sea we do have experience of two ship operations as demonstrated by the falklands. Also vtol stol capability means any ship in the fleet can act as temporary base in case of damage. Finally nuclear powered ships are prohibited in many ports like NY etc.
Thanks for reading our articles. Please consider subscribing to New Atlas Plus.
By doing so you will be supporting independent journalism, plus you will get the benefits of a faster, ad-free experience.