Coronavirus: HMS Prince Of Wales Sailors Run Hampshire Test Centres

The aircraft carrier has provided personnel for seven testing centres while she undergoes maintenance in Portsmouth.

Personnel from HMS Prince of Wales (HMSPOW) have been helping run coronavirus mobile testing units across Hampshire.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier has provided sailors for seven mobile testing units across the county, with another two teams on standby if needed.

The warship is currently undergoing maintenance in her home base of Portsmouth, after returning from sea trials earlier this year.

All personnel involved in the testing have been trained by the British Army in how to carry out the work safely.

Sub Lieutenant Joshua Price, who took charge of one of the testing units, said it is a "real privilege and an honour" to help out in the role.

"We are being trained by and working alongside the Irish Guards who are a professional regiment," he said.

"My team are working pretty smoothly. They all know their job roles. We all fit in, we all work well with each other regardless of rank."

Personnel staffing a coronavirus mobile testing centre in Hampshire 030720 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
Personnel were trained by the Army in how to safely carry out the tests safely whilst ensuring they are not at risk of catching the virus (Picture: Royal Navy).

It was confirmed last month that more than 1,000 extra military personnel are providing additional help to carry out testing across the UK.

Similar efforts have been made by other regiments to help in specific areas of the countries, with Royal Marines helping to run similar mobile testing units in the south-west of England.

During the peak of the military's coronavirus response, 20,000 troops were at readiness, with more than 4,000 of them were deployed at any one time.

"They passed on their knowledge so we can follow on in their footsteps and do something good in these troubling times."

So far, the ship’s personnel have run testing units in Eastleigh, Fawley and Brockenhurst, with more Hampshire sites planned this week.

HMSPOW's Engineer Technician Steven James, usually responsible for the carrier’s communications and IT systems, said while "learning about the process and procedure" he has gained an "understanding of the virus and how to protect [himself] and others".

"This has been a learning curve for all of the public and ourselves and together we can put an end to the virus," he said.

Naval Airman Aircraft Handler Michael Paul says the experience has been a unique one.

"On-ship I'm normally doing firefighting, moving aircraft on deck - if anything goes wrong I'm there to help out," he said.

"It's completely different to what I normally do but it's nice to actually help the community out."

While the military assistance may be of benefit to the Hampshire public, the sailors themselves have been brought together by their involvement in the testing.

"There's a lot of people here from different branches who you don't normally see around the ship, it's nice to be able to mix with other people," he added.

Cover image: Royal Navy.