Second Royal Navy aircraft carrier fires up engines for first time

The second of the Royal Navy’s two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers has fired up her engines for the first time.

Engineers aboard HMS Prince of Wales turned on the diesel generators ­in a milestone on the road to sending the 65,000-ton warship to sea in the second half of next year.

In the bowels of the carrier there are four Wärtsilä diesel generators, each capable of producing more than 11 Megawatts of power.

Collectively, these four diesels generate 40 per cent of the total power produced by the carrier; the Rolls-Royce MT30 main engines which drive the ship through the water account for the rest, but they have yet to be switched on. When they are, each can meet the electricity needs of Burnley or Guildford.

Firing up the Wärtsiläs marked the culmination of years of planning, installation, wiring, testing and finally commissioning.

A 40-strong team of navy and civilian engineers were thoroughly briefed and an announcement made throughout the ship before, with the press of a button, the first of four diesels roared into life.

“With the first run of HMS Prince of Wales’ diesel generators now complete, the ship is truly coming to life on its own systems,” said Lieutenant James Sheridan-Browne, the carrier’s power and propulsion engineering officer.

“The running of diesel generators will now continue to provide a steady drumbeat to sailing the ship to Portsmouth in 2019.”

Simon Lister, managing director of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance which has designed and built Prince of Wales and her older sister HMS Queen Elizabeth added: “To all involved – and that is a large proportion of the entire workforce – my thanks and congratulations on achieving the first diesel start.

“This has seen focused effort, great innovation, real perseverance in the face of setbacks, and a commitment to quality that has been truly impressive.

“These are becoming the hallmarks of HMS Prince of Wales. Great teamwork from a large number of groups and individuals. Well done, thank you, and now for the gas turbines!”

Photo: Photo: Royal Navy