Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The HMS Prince of Wales, Britain's newest aircraft carrier, arrived at its home port of Portsmouth, England, for the first time.
The $4 billion warship is the sister ship of the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is currently off the eastern U.S. coast participating in trials with the U.S. Navy, but has been based in Portsmouth since 2017. They are the most expensive ships ever built for the Royal Navy.
Ship supporters and families of the crew gathered at the shoreline to watch the ship arrive, two weeks ahead of schedule, after its nine-week first stage sea trials.
The new ship, has a crew of 700 and can carry up to 36 fighter planes and four helicopters. It is designed to accommodate F-35B fighter planes, which have short take-off and vertical landing capabilities, on its flight deck, 230 feet wide and 919 feet long.
Over $130 million has been spent to upgrade facilities at the Portsmouth naval base to house the two carriers. The HMS Prince of Wales and the HMS Queen Elizabeth were built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a British consortium which includes, the U.K. Defense Ministry and major contractors BAE Systems, Babcock International and Thales UK Ltd.
"Today marks a very proud and historic moment for everyone in Babcock and the rest of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, as the second in class, HMS Prince of Wales enters Portsmouth and is handed over to the Royal Navy," Archie Bethel, CEO of Babcock, said on Saturday.
"This has been a remarkable program for everyone involved, delivering the U.K.'s two largest warships ever into Royal Navy service."