HMS Prince of Wales 'is a bomb site': Sailors on board new £3.2bn 'Big Charlie' aircraft carrier slam plush officers' cabin portrayed in glitzy launch publicity - saying crew quarters are unfinished and 'demoralising'
- The £3.1 billion HMS Prince of Wales made its maiden voyage on Thursday to begin nine weeks of sea trials
- However, the conditions for crew have been described as 'a bomb site' after pictures emerged from inside
- Britain's second and newest aircraft carrier, measuring 920 feet in length, leaves Rosyth dockyard in Scotland
- Navigators, pilots and tug boats had the slimmest of margins to deal with as they guided the 65,000 tonne behemoth out of the basin through a narrow opening during high tide
Royal Navy sailors have slammed the launch of a £3.2billion war ship after a photo emerged showing plush officers' cabins next to 'bomb site' accommodation for crew.
The HMS Prince of Wales - a £3.2billion aircraft carrier - began sea trials with 600 crew on Thursday.
However, pictures inside the 920-foot vessel suggested areas of the officers' quarters were given precedence 'over a bomb site' for its regular servicemen.
A naval source said: 'The feeling is if you spend £3.2billion on a boat, finish it before you put it in the water.
HMS Prince of Wales, Britain's newest aircraft carrier, is pictured here leaving Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland for the first time
This photo shows the conditions of the crew's quarters on the HMS Prince of Wales. The unfinished quarters were described as 'a bomb site'
However, the officer's quarters on the other hand are in far better condition, featuring plush chairs and Navy insignia on hardwood floors
'This vessel is one of the finest built but it can't be put to sea, even for trials, incomplete.
'There will always be a healthy divide between officers and your regular sailor but this is demoralising for the lads.'
Speaking on forces social website Fill Your Boots, Philip Smyth wrote: 'Well... One way to show us a middle finger.'
David Gomarsall said: 'So you just get issued with a pile of flatpacks after you have built the officers mess?'
The Ministry of Defence said HMS Prince of Wales would go to trials with a compliment of 600 men, the minimum crew required for sail.
A spokesman said: 'All of our sailors have suitable facilities to eat, work, relax, and sleep in.
'The ship's company have been working hard with contractors to ensure the ship is functionally ready for sea trials, but it is normal at this stage for some compartments not to be fully completed.
The Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, moves to an anchorage in the Forth Estuary after leaving Rosyth Dockyard
With HMS Prince of Wales setting sail, it will see both of the UK's biggest and most powerful warships at sea together for the first time
'Work will continue on the ship as it goes through trials.'
The complaints emerged shortly after the ship squeezed out of Rosyth dockyard, leaving the Scottish basin where she was assembled.
The process of getting the four-acre military operating base on to the Firth of Forth represented one of the most delicate manoeuvres the warship would have to undertake.
Navigators, pilots and tug boats had the slimmest of margins to deal with as they guided the 65,000 tonne behemoth out of the basin through a narrow opening during high tide.
The gap the aircraft carrier had to pass through is little more than 130 feet wide - allowing around three feet of clearance either side and one-and-a-half feet between the bottom of the ship and the sea bed.
At 8pm it was announced that the carrier was at anchor in the Forth to conduct more checks and training before sailing under the forth bridges in the near future. They HMS Prince of Wales Twitter account posted the above image saying: 'First sunset ceremony complete. A fantastic end to a historic day for @HMSPWLS'
Navigators, pilots and tug boats had the slimmest of margins to deal with as they guided the 65,000 tonne behemoth out of the basin through a narrow opening during high tide
The sister ship of HMS Queen Elizabeth will now begin nine weeks of sea trials before heading into Portsmouth Naval base
Once in the river, the £3.1 billion aircraft carrier will anchor for three to five days before waiting for a low tide to pass under the Firth's famous bridges
Captain Darren Houston, the commanding officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said ahead of the departure that he was not worried.
'We feel prepared, we are absolutely ready for this,' he said, adding how they have practised in a simulator and that he was on board HMS Queen Elizabeth when she left Rosyth in 2017.
'We won't be relaxed until we actually get safely into the channel. The focus will be on making sure we get there properly.'
Once in the river, the £3.1 billion aircraft carrier will anchor for three to five days before waiting for a low tide to pass under the Firth's famous bridges.
To do so, the mast pole on top of one of the islands, which operates on a hydraulic system, will be lowered so the ship can pass under the bridges and head towards the North Sea.
Pictured: Work continues on the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales ahead of its launch from Rosyth Dockyard in Fife on September 13
Captain Darren Houston, the commanding officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said ahead of the departure that he was not worried (pictured: September 13)
'We feel prepared, we are absolutely ready for this,' Captain Houston said, adding how they have practised in a simulator and that he was on board HMS Queen Elizabeth when she left Rosyth in 2017
Captain Houston said there was a 'real air of excitement' among the 650 ship's company and 300 contractors, adding he was proud of the work they have done to get the vessel ready for sea trials which will test areas including the engines and radar systems.
Having previously served as second in command on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, he said he saw exactly what happened during her sea trials and knows how this aircraft carrier will react.
With a mixture of new Royal Navy sailors and old hands making up the crew, Captain Houston said for him there is a 'sense of pride and a real privilege to be the first captain' to take the ship to sea.
With HMS Prince of Wales setting sail, it will see both of the UK's biggest and most powerful warships at sea together for the first time.
Rear Admiral Martin Connell, assistant chief of naval staff aviation and carrier strike, said: 'I was the commanding officer of HMS Illustrious - our former aircraft carrier - and if someone had told me at the beginning of this decade we would have two brand new aircraft carriers at sea by the end of the decade, I wouldn't have believed them.
Pictured: Firemen use a hose as work continues on the the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales ahead of its departure from Rosyth Dockyard in Fife for sea trials on September 13
Captain Houston, pictured September 13, said there was a 'real air of excitement' among the 650 ship's company and 300 contractors
A boat is lifted from the water as work continued on the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales on Friday September 13, 2019
'In a matter of days, perhaps weeks, we are going to have HMS Queen Elizabeth on the western Atlantic operating F-35s stealth fighter jets, as well as HMS Prince of Wales around the UK doing contractor sea trials.
'That is a remarkable feat in terms of the project.
'But, also what it gives us is the ability and the confidence to think we will have a continuous carrier capability for decades.'
During their 50-year service, the two aircraft carriers can be pressed into action for various work such as high intensity war fighting or providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
They have been built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance (ACA) - a partnership of BAE Systems, Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence.
Overall, six shipyards around the UK - Appledore, Birkenhead, Govan, Portsmouth, Rosyth and Tyne - have been involved in building various parts of the carriers.
Minister for defence procurement Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who toured the ship ahead of the departure, said it is 'fantastic that we have got our carrier strike capability back'.
'These are Formula One ships - extraordinary beasts delivering both global power projection and indeed the ability to deliver hard power if we need to against our enemies,' she added.
HMS Prince of Wales is expected to head into her home base of Portsmouth once sea trials have been completed, and will commission into the Royal Navy at the end of the year.
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