Merlin helicopter on board HMS Prince of Wales
Navy

HMS Prince Of Wales: Merlin Becomes First Aircraft To Land On Carrier

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is conducting sea trials off the Scottish coast, after leaving Rosyth dockyard last week.

Merlin helicopter on board HMS Prince of Wales

A Merlin helicopter has landed on board HMS Prince of Wales becoming the first aircraft to land on the carrier's deck.

The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is currently off the Scottish coast conducting sea trials, after leaving Rosyth dockyard last week.

It is the first time both HMS Queen Elizabeth and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales have been at sea simultaneously.

The Merlin Mk2 landed and took off six times as various problems and emergencies were practised by the air and ground crew, while HMS Prince of Wales’ air traffic controllers guided the helicopter fliers in circuits around the aircraft carrier.

The landing was directed by Commander Phil Richardson, who is the naval officer in charge of all flying operations conducted by the ship.

He hailed “a momentous occasion” for the Royal Navy.

“The ability to fly fast jets and helicopters from two fifth-generation Royal Navy aircraft carriers puts the UK at the very forefront of maritime aviation," Cdr Richardson said.

Merlin helicopter on board HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Prince of Wales left Rosyth dockyard in Fife, where she has been pieced together over the past eight years, on Thursday.

The first task for the ship's crew was final training at anchor in the Forth, including the firefighting and emergency teams practising reacting to aircraft crashing on deck.

HMS Prince of Wales put to sea on Sunday, with the ship passed beneath the three bridges spanning the Forth upstream of Edinburgh.

She will spend the next couple of months completing her initial period of sea trials, before debuting in her home base of Portsmouth, where she will be commissioned before Christmas in the presence of the Duchess of Cornwall.

Merlin helicopter landing on board HMS Prince of Wales

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently across the other side of the Atlantic, preparing to undergo flight trials with British F-35B Lightning jets.

Last year, Queen Elizabeth spent four months off America's east coast, conducting more than 500 takeoffs and landings with US F-35s. 

HMS Prince of Wales, which is 280 metres long and weighs 65,00 tonnes, is expected to commission into the Royal Navy in 2020.