Mark’s Postings – HMS Prince of Wales Tour – 01/06/2023

It was with great pleasure my wife and I along with other members of the Royal Marines Association Edinburgh Branch accepted the generous offer of a visit/tour of HMS Prince of Wales whilst in dry dock at Rosyth.

The Secretary of the RMA Edinburgh, Matt Jones, sums up the day’s events eloquently in the following blog which he kindly gave me permission to ‘prof’. 😊

On Thursday 1st June the Edinburgh Branch of the Royal Marines Association welcomed in the summer with a trip to visit HMS Prince of Wales (RO9) in Rosyth dockyard as she nears the end of the repair work to the drive shaft.

A group comprising 20 members of the branch including Brigadier Ian Gardiner assembled on the quayside beneath the vast bulk of this amazing super carrier. 65,000 tons of nautical steel hardware sitting lonely in a dry dock did not befit such a regal title, but it was for just another 30 or so days as she with her 240-foot beam and 932-foot length are scheduled to depart from Rosyth at the beginning of July, all being well.

Our hosts were from the air wing of the carrier’s complement and were extremely efficient in getting us through the rigorous security processes before we were able to cross the brow of the ship. Both Lieutenant Commander Chris Poulson and Chief Petty Officer Sam Skiff were eloquent and full of enthusiasm as they guided and conducted us through this most enjoyable tour. It was certainly the equivalent of a ‘bottom-field’ work out as we managed to total up around 10,000 steps within two and half hours as we travelled through lavishly wide corridors with street names from around the UK, up and down stairwells with the pitch of a Cathedral’s steeple and into a futuristic world of computer gaming rooms that were the pumps which made this warship’s heart beat. For anyone who has served on a warship as either ship’s company or embarked force in the past, this ship, by comparison was like stepping into a rich oligarchs floating palace.

Unfortunately, there were no aircraft to see on this occasion but when on deployment she is host at surge capacity to 65+ aircraft including 36 F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft and 14 helicopters. The hangar alone was an immense space that was so clinically clean that it looked more like an empty Amazon warehouse. The flight deck and ski ramp too were vast, and one could only imagine the noise and mayhem onboard when flying stations were in full swing.

We visited the bridge in the forward tower, and this resembled the flight deck of Star Trek’s star ship Enterprise. A distinct lack of paper as aspects of operations from this location were computerised, including the ships charts. There was a chartroom with a few portfolios of paper charts, but this appeared more as a museum exhibit than a navigational operations room. In the rear tower was where all aircraft are coordinated and controlled from. Again, no expense has been spared in the design of this onboard air traffic control tower with its 12 x 25 foot high, 6 feet wide bomb proof green tinted windows that overlook the whole flight deck. Each window having its own 25-foot-tall windscreen wipers which, I am told, cost around £15,000 each to replace – I wonder if Halfords would fit these while you wait?

Of the crew we met aboard the Prince of Wales, all appeared to walk in a manner that suggests they are aware of where they work and that they are justly proud of this fact. I must say, from a personal perspective, I am very envious of the crew of today’s Royal Navy living in such luxurious conditions, but I suppose they deserve it as the world evolves and moves forwards with technology and if we are to maintain the best navy in the world then they deserve nothing but the best in return. We concluded our visit with a hearty fair well to our hosts on the gangway with the exchange of a bottle of port. Well done to all those aboard HMS Prince of Wales and we trust you will be seaborne again very soon. As they say in Scotland; “Safe oot, safe hame”!

Matt Jones


RMA – Edinburgh Branch