A Royal Navy Captain from Tavistock is ready for the naming of his ship HMS Prince of Wales, one of the largest navy ships ever built.
Captain Ian Groom, from Tavistock, is the first captain appointed to HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Originally hailing from Portsmouth, he attended school in Sherborne and has lived with his family in Devon for the last 17 years.
The ship will be formally named in Rosyth today (Friday 8th September) by HRH The Duchess of Rothesay, the title used in Scotland for the Duchess of Cornwall.
Capt Groom said: “This month marks my 31st anniversary since joining the Royal Navy and also the proudest moment in my career. As an engineering officer, it is a privilege to oversee the build of the largest and most complex warships ever built in the UK. Quite simply it doesn’t get better than this.
“Last month we saw the first entry into Portsmouth of our sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was a truly historic moment. However, she cannot deliver a continuous carrier capability alone without HMS Prince of Wales. Together, the QE Class Aircraft Carriers provide the UK government with the ability to project political influence and formidable power across the globe at a time and place of its choosing.”
The naming ceremony is the most important event in the ship’s life to date and marks the beginning of the relationship between the Lady Sponsor, the ship’s company and their families, which will endure for the life of the ship.
It also celebrates the achievement of the UK shipbuilding industry. HMS Prince of Wales was built in blocks all across the UK, then assembled in Rosyth, it is appropriate therefore, that a bottle of Laphroaig whisky will be smashed into the hull to mark the official naming of the ship.
This week it was announced that Captain Stephen Moorhouse will be the first seagoing commanding officer of HMS Prince Wales. During his command, the ship will go to sea and be formally commissioned into the Royal Navy, allowing the white ensign to be flown.
Captain Groom said: “At the appropriate time I will hand over a ship and a crew that are trained, ready to go to sea and that Captain Moorhouse will be proud of.”
The bond between Tavistock and the military has been maintained in recent years by Captain Groom who has had the honour of laying a wreath at the Service of Remembrance. There are several members of the crew from Tavistock and the wider South West area who are contributing to the build of HMS Prince of Wales in Rosyth.
HMS Prince of Wales weighs in at 65 000 tonnes and the flight deck is 70 metres wide and 280 metres long – enough space for three football pitches and it would just fit into Meadowlands Park in Tavistock. The current crew have forged links with the few surviving veterans of the previous HMS Prince of Wales, ensuring the future of the Royal Navy is informed by the past. The previous HMS Prince of Wales saw action against the Bismarck and was one of the first capital ships, along with HMS Repulse, which were sunk solely by air power on the open sea in December 1941.