Only 14 navies across the world currently operate aircraft carriers with a total of 47 carriers currently in active use. The U.S. Navy operates 11 of these aircraft carriers, each capable of carrying up to 80 aircraft. We have previously covered, the different classes of aircraft carriers that the U.S. has deployed in its naval history. In comparison, the Royal Navy has only two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
HMS Prince of Wales
The HMS Prince of Wales is the Royal Navy’s second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and its construction began in 2011. Over a period of eight years, budget cuts threatened the ship from being rolled out to sea. Eventually, the warship was completed at a cost of three billion pounds (US$ 3.52 billion) and handed over to the Royal Navy in 2019.
The 65,000 tonne- (71,650 U.S. tons) warship’s base is near Portsmouth on the southern coast of the U.K. Unlike other aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales is not equipped with catapults or arrestor wires and is, therefore, a base for F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters, which have short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) capabilities.
Problems with the UK’s largest warship
Shortly after its commissioning, the warship got stranded near Portsmouth in 2020, after its engine room was flooded and its electrics damaged. Another leakage incident meant that the warship, designated as NATO’s flagship carrier earlier this year, spent less than 90 days at sea during its first two years of service.