HMS Prince of Wales team trains at HMS Raleigh

A team from HMS Prince of Wales weathered last week’s storms to complete a three-day training package at HMS Raleigh.

The group of 45 make up the mighty Aircraft Carrier’s replenishment-at-sea team, commonly known in the Royal Navy as RAS or RASing.

During their time at Raleigh they spent two days on the RAS trainer; a multi-million-pound mock-up of a warship and a Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessel which is designed to teach sailors and RFA personnel how to transfer stores and fuel safely from ship-to-ship while underway at sea. 

RASing can take place in various sea states day and night.  Stores and fuel are transferred using heavy wires and it is often described as the most dangerous seamanship task undertaken at sea. 

Petty Officer (PO) Matt Woods, who as the Buffer on board HMS Prince of Wales, oversees the seaman specialists on board.  He said:  “From the ship’s commissioning in December we are now preparing to go to sea for our next set of trials during which we will be RASing for the first time.  We are a new ship, using new equipment and will be RASing with a new class of RFA replenishment ships; the Tide class.  Using the facilities at Raleigh allows our team to become familiar with the equipment, so that when we do it for real at sea the routines and processes will be instinctive.”

We are a new ship, using new equipment and will be RASing with a new class of RFA replenishment ships; the Tide class. Using the facilities at Raleigh allows our team to become familiar with the equipment, so that when we do it for real at sea the routines and processes will be instinctive.

Petty Officer (PO) Matt Woods

HMS Prince of Wales is the second of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers and was formally commissioned in December during a ceremony attended by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall.  The Duchess is the ship’s lady sponsor.  HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Queen Elizabeth are the biggest ships ever built for the Royal Navy.

PO Woods has been assigned to the ship for the last 18 months.  He said:  “The new aircraft carriers are an impressive piece of UK engineering.  I’ve previously served on frigates and destroyers, so being onboard Prince of Wales is a huge change.  For me being the ship’s first Buffer is certainly something that I will look back on with pride in years to come."

HMS Raleigh’s replenishment-at-sea facility was originally built by Rolls Royce as a demonstrator to trial the designs and equipment which were to be used to transfer bulk stores and munitions to the new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers from the next generation of RFA vessels.  Once the trials were complete, the company converted the demonstrator into a training facility.