Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (Picture Alamy).
Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (Picture Alamy).
Technology

Why has HMS Prince of Wales been fitted with an atomic clock?

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (Picture Alamy).
Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales (Picture Alamy).

UK aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales has been fitted with the first atomic clock of its kind before recently heading for Norway.

The 65,000-tonne warship will show off its laptop-sized quantum kit when it joins allies in the Arctic on Exercise Cold Response.

Highly accurate compared to the GPS systems normally used to give time signals, atomic clocks give a more precise drumbeat for the vessel's onboard systems to synchronise with.

Far smaller, the technology could also find its way into Royal Marines' day sacks, the Navy says.

The trial on HMS Prince of Wales could prove how useful quantum technology could be for the Navy when GPS systems break or are unavailable – accurate time signals are crucial for operational success at sea.

Success could see other Navy ships using the equipment.

The atomic clock on board HMS Prince of Wales (Picture: Royal Navy).
The atomic clock on board HMS Prince of Wales (Picture: Royal Navy).

BP and Teledyne e2v, a Teledyne UK company, worked with the service to adapt the systems for HMS Prince of Wales, which has become the command ship for NATO's Maritime High Readiness Force – an international task group formed to deal with major global events.

The Norwegian-led Exercise Cold Response will involve 35,000 troops from 28 nations operating together in a scenario to show how a unified multilateral force would defend Norway and Europe's northern flank from a modern adversary.