HMS Prince of Wales: the role of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier in a major NATO exercise off Norway

HMS Prince of Wales has set sail for a major Arctic exercise as NATO command ship.

The 65,000 tonne warship left Portsmouth Naval Base in the early hours of Monday morning (March 7) to take part in Exercise Cold Response.

The NATO exercise would involve 35,000 troops from 28 countries working together to test the task force’s ability to protect Norway from modern threats.

READ MORE: HMS Queen Elizabeth leaves Portsmouth for ‘vital’ training and exercises – in pictures

It is described as a month-long test by land, sea and air of Allied forces to operate in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

However, NATO has confirmed that the Cold Response exercise is not related to the Russian invasion and the war against Ukraine.

HMS Prince of Wales is tasked with leading NATO’s Maritime High Readiness Force – an international task force formed to deal with major global events – and is deploying for the first time in this role in Cold Response .

On board the carrier are the Royal Navy’s most senior staff – Commander UK Strike Force, led by Rear Admiral Mike Utley, who will lead a large task force as part of the a galvanized effort by NATO for peace and stability in Europe.

Rear Admiral Utley said: “NATO is the cornerstone of British defense and our commitment to the alliance is absolute.

“It is a privilege to be the UK maritime component commander as we take part in this Norwegian-led exercise.”

HMS Prince of Wales will lead a powerful maritime task force which, alongside aircraft and land forces – including Royal Marines Commandos – will show how a unified multilateral force would defend Norway and the northern flank of Europe. Europe against a modern adversary.

Surrounding the aircraft carrier will be a steel ring of protection consisting of warships, aircraft, a nuclear-powered attack submarine and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary supply ship.

Together they will defend HMS Prince of Wales against threats above, below and on the waves throughout her deployment to the Far North.

This will be the first time one of the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers will operate in the Arctic and it’s a challenge the ship’s company relishes.

Chief Airman (Aircraft Handler) Josh Thomason said, “I look forward to operating in extremely cold weather.

“We are ready as a team to operate with different aircraft in these difficult conditions and we look forward to the challenges this will bring.”

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