August 28, 2018 – The nerve center of Britain’s second giant new aircraft carrier is ready for ‘flashing up’ for the first time – two months earlier than planned.It is from the sprawling operations room and its many terminals that the crew of HMS Prince of Wales will watch for threats, track the movements of the carrier’s F-35B Lightning jets and Merlin helicopters and direct missions as varied as intercepting hostile aircraft, to striking targets on land or delivering humanitarian aid in a disaster zone.
Working hand-in-hand with Royal Navy experts, engineers and technicians from the Aircraft Carrier Alliance have toiled to ensure that all the equipment and cabling is in place and, most importantly, that the computer systems ‘talk’ to each other so the masses of data coming into the ship from her own sensors such as her radar, as well as information from her aircraft and other ships in the task group, or friendly forces ashore, can be meshed together accurately for operators to understand clearly… so the command team can make key decisions in good time.
Chief Petty Officer Greg Connor, the Ops Room manager, said allowing his team to move in to the complex was “a momentous occasion.”
He continued: “This milestone represents the heart of the warfare fighting elements of the ship coming to fruition.
“The Warfare Department now has its sights firmly set on preparing the ship and team as more and more systems are brought online.”
Handing the compartment over to the ship’s company was production manager David Scott. “The operations complex has been over three years in the making for me – and much longer for others,” he explained.
“We had some of the best workforce available to us and with the team taking ownership of the area, we are able to deliver the compartments ahead of time and to a much higher standard than that previously achieved.
“This demonstrates to all that we can step up to the toughest challenges on this project and that’s credit to all those who have supported me.”
It’s the latest key part of the ship to be finished and handed over to the crew to run; watches are already being run in the Ship Control center, which oversees the marine engineering aspects of the 65,000-tonne carrier (such as engines, generators and water supply/sewage).
In all, more than 3,000 compartments have to be signed off before the carrier leaves her berth at Rosyth to undergo sea trials next year in the hands of a combined Royal Navy-civilian crew.