HMS Prince of Wales returns from Spain after completing NATO mission
Britain’s biggest warship is set to return home tomorrow after completing a NATO mission in which she operated alongside Spain’s aircraft carrier in the Gulf of Cadiz.
HMS Prince of Wales will be back in Portsmouth after being involved in Spain’s premier naval exercises off their Atlantic coast, boosting security and NATO allies’ ability to operate together in the region.
The aircraft carrier was involved in a display of force as training began with a Royal Salute from the Spanish Armada to King Felipe VI of Spain, who was aboard aircraft carrier Juan Carlos I, while a flypast of jets – including iconic Harrier jump jets – roared overhead.
Captain Richard Hewitt, Commanding Officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said: “Being able to formally recognise the Spanish Royal Family, saluting King Filipe VI from the bridge of HMS Prince of Wales was a real honour.
“Coming only a few weeks after our celebrations for our Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, operating alongside the Spanish flagship represents another milestone in the operational journey of HMS Prince of Wales.”
The NATO task force – made up of 20 ships from six nations – was assembled to show the alliance’s commitment to the region’s prosperity and security ahead of the NATO Madrid summit on Tuesday (June 28).
HMS Prince of Wales was involved in her role as NATO’s command ship, which means she is ready to deploy quickly in response to crises as part of the alliance’s Response Force.
The aircraft carrier operated with Spanish flagship Juan Carlos I and worked on commanding and controlling the multinational NATO force, enhancing allies’ ability to operate seamlessly together.
The head of the Spanish Marine Corps, Major General Rafael Roldán Tudela, came aboard HMS Prince of Wales during Flotex to see first-hand Britain’s newest aircraft carrier.
The General was given a tour and the ship’s company laid on a demonstration of the skills they’ve worked on during NATO operations this year, including a deployment to the Arctic.
“For the Spanish Navy, the Fleet and for me personally it has been a great pleasure to integrate HMS Prince of Wales with our units during these days.
“Being able to operate with such an outstanding and capable unit is a unique opportunity which truly enhances the overall capability.
“It has been a real honour having British units on board, strengthening our friendship and fostering our cooperation for achieving a safe sea.”
A flypast took place during the exercises, with two Typhoons, three F-18s and three AV8-Bs (a variant of the Harrier) involved.
The Harrier is an icon of British military aviation, having seen action in the Falklands and been in service in its various forms from 1969-2010.
Petty Officer “Whiskey” Walker said: “Seeing the Spanish Harriers fly past for the Royal Salute was striking, although they felt quieter than when I used to work with them.
“I’m really looking forward to operating with the even more impressive – and louder – F-35 Lightning later this year.”