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Bristol affiliated aircraft carrier named in Royal Navy ceremony

HMS Prince of Wales, one of the largest ships in the Royal Navy fleet, has been officially named by HRH The Duchess of Rothesay in a ceremony at Rosyth Dockyard, Scotland.

The state of the art carrier is the second of the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, following her sister ship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was named in 2014.

Bristol, along with Liverpool, is one of two cities to have the honour of being officially affiliated with the ship. Others affiliated with the ship include Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, Welsh Guards, The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeth’s Own) and 27 Squadron RAF.

The ceremony saw navy dignitaries and those from Bristol, Liverpool and other affiliates gather on the dockside at Rosyth to witness the ship officially receive its name, marked by the breaking of a bottle of Laphroaig whisky onto the hull.

Representing Bristol at the event were Peaches Golding OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Bristol and Councillor Lesley Alexander, Lord Mayor of Bristol.

The Lord Lieutenant added: “I had the privilege of attending this event as both a citizen of Bristol and Her Majesty The Queen’s representative in the city. I cannot describe the pride I feel in being part of a historic moment for our Royal Navy and the future of our city’s global maritime reputation. I wish to thank the Royal Navy, Captain Ian Groom, the crew of HMS Prince of Wales and fellow dignitaries for the wonderful reception we have received and for ensuring a very fitting marking of this momentous day.”

The Lord Mayor added: “It was an honour to represent the city and people of Bristol to witness the naming of HMS Prince of Wales and affirming our link to this wonderful ship. The sheer size and scale of the aircraft carrier is hugely impressive and I am proud that Bristol is affiliated with the ship and its crew. A warm welcome will await you all in Bristol as we look forward to your next visit soon.”

Affiliations are an established tradition in the Royal Navy, providing opportunities for relationships to develop between the ship, its crew and the city.

Bristol’s affiliation with the HMS Prince of Wales will see the city’s name and reputation carried across the world as the carrier tours the globe in a variety of ambassadorial, humanitarian and combat roles.

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “Our maritime heritage is woven into Bristol’s identity and touches every community across the city. We are also an outward looking city with a desire to make new links and contribute to the global community. I welcome this opportunity to share our story and build new relationships with an international audience. I look forward to developing our affiliation with the ship and crew and building strong friendships over the coming years.”

The 65,000 tonne ship, along with HMS Queen Elizabeth, is the largest and most powerful ever built by the Royal Navy. The 280 metre long ship – longer than eight Cabot Towers laid down end to end – has a range of 10,000 nautical miles and speeds in excess of 25 knots. The futuristic design will see the carrier be capable of carrying up to 36 F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters and a complement of Merlin helicopters.

Captain Ian Groom MBE, Captain of HMS Prince of Wales, said: “The naming of HMS Prince of Wales is a significant moment in terms of breathing life into the ship. It is a huge privilege to be the first Captain appointed to HMS Prince of Wales and an honour to share this occasion with our families and affiliates.  We are delighted to be affiliated to the maritime city of Bristol and the shared opportunities it presents.”

James Durie, Chief Executive of Bristol Chamber & West of England Initiative at Business West, said: “Bristol's affiliation to this new ship is a prestigious and very exciting opportunity and we are delighted to be able to play our part. Working closer with the Royal Navy and our armed forces is very important to the business community with benefits for all.  For our employers and their staff linking to this state of the art new ship will undoubtedly help them build new networks & contacts and showcase many trade promotion opportunities across the world."

HMS Prince of Wales is set to be handed over to the Royal Navy for duty in 2019 and will be prepared and ready for front-line duties from 2023.