Father and son duo Engineering Technician Ashley Smith and his dad Warrant Officer 2 Duncan Thornhill on HMS Prince of Wales 170521 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY
Navy

Meet The Father And Son Duo On Board HMS Prince Of Wales

Despite being on the same ship, the pair work in different departments and say they rarely cross paths on the massive aircraft carrier.

Father and son duo Engineering Technician Ashley Smith and his dad Warrant Officer 2 Duncan Thornhill on HMS Prince of Wales 170521 CREDIT ROYAL NAVY

A father and son from Plymouth are serving together on board HMS Prince of Wales as the aircraft carrier conducts training and trials off the Devon coast.

Engineering Technician Ashley Smith and his dad Warrant Officer 2 Duncan Thornhill are two of the more than 700 crew members on the ship.

"Growing up it was hard with the amount of time dad spent deployed, but after seeing what the service had provided for him and our family it was easy to understand why he enjoyed it and I wanted to be a part of that," said 27-year-old Engineering Technician Smith, who has spent two years on HMS Prince of Wales with one left to go.

"It's nice to have a familiar face on board and makes it that little bit easier when away from the family. The guaranteed lift home each weekend is also quite a nice perk!

"But working in two separate departments, we rarely cross paths."

Engineering Technician Smith ensures saltwater runs through the carrier, so it can be used by firefighting teams in the event of an emergency and is also responsible for monitoring machinery and systems as a watchkeeper.

His dad is the ship's catering services manager – helping to ensure everyone on board is fed three times a day.

HMS Prince of Wales setting sail from Portsmouth last month (Picture: MOD).

Originally from Blackburn, Lancashire, WO2 Thornhill has served with the Royal Navy since 1989, deploying to the Caribbean, Adriatic, Mediterranean and Middle East

He has spent almost his entire career with Plymouth-based ships and submarines but has also served as an instructor at HMS Raleigh for raw recruits and trainee chefs and caterers.

"Although a bit on the cheesy side, it was too good of an opportunity to miss," said the 49-year-old about joining HMS Prince of Wales.

"Before submitting my preference I did chat with Ashley about it to make sure he was comfortable, which he was.

"We work in two different departments, so we haven't seen much of each other, but it is good to see him when we do cross paths."

A third family member could soon be joining the duo, as Engineering Technician Smith's youngest brother has applied to join the Navy. 

The Portsmouth-based HMS Prince of Wales is currently off Torbay – working towards joining her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth on frontline operations. 

The 65,000-tonne HMS Prince of Wales set sail in April for the first time in more than a year, following a period of upgrades, maintenance and repairs which cost an estimated £3.3m after a flood in an engine room

Cover image: WO2 Thornhill (left) and Engineering Technician Smith (right) on board HMS Prince of Wales (Picture: Royal Navy).