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David Cameron in Wales

Second Carrier will be brought into service

Published: 07 Sep 2014

David Cameron said on Friday 5 September 2014 that the second aircraft carrier, currently being built, would be brought into service, ending speculation about its future.

"This will ensure that we will always have one carrier available, 100 percent of the time," Cameron said in a speech at a NATO summit in Wales.

The two carriers are the biggest ships ever built for the Royal Navy. Mr Cameron said: “They are an investment in British security, British prosperity and our place in the world, transforming our ability to project power globally whether independently or with our allies.”

He added: “Our brand new aircraft carrier – HMS Queen Elizabeth – was named by Her Majesty in July and has now left her dry dock and is being fitted with her combat systems. She will be the mightiest ship the Royal Navy has ever put to sea, able to protect and project our interests across the globe for decades to come.” Mr Cameron’s announcement will be welcomed by defence experts who criticised the decision to mothball the HMS Prince of Wales. Admiral Sir George Zambellas, the First Sea Lord, warned earlier this year that Britain’s maritime credibility hinged on having a carrier.

The fate of the carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, was not due to be decided until a defence spending review in the second half of next year after a national election, and defence experts had said it could be mothballed or sold. The first of class, Queen Elizabeth, was launched on July 4 and is now being fitted out ahead of commissioning in 2017 and achieving the initial operating capability in 2020. The Royal Navy will operate the second warship, the Prince of Wales, which is due to be commissioned in 2020.

While the move would give Britain two operational aircraft carriers, there is a question about the number of F-35B short-takeoff-vertical-landing aircraft that would go on them. An order for the first 14 aircraft set to be operated by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force is still awaited.

A Defence Ministry spokeswoman declined to say when the deal would be completed but did confirm it was still the intention to receive the first operational aircraft in 2016.


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