HMS Prince of Wales embarked towards the North Sea on Monday from the naval base in Portsmouth. Photo: Royal Navy

British aircraft carrier sets sail for exercise inside Arctic Circle

Armed with F-35, Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, the carrier will take a lead role in Norway’s large-scale allied winter exercise Nordic Response.
February 13, 2024


Nordic Response is a northern prolongation of the record-breaking ongoing NATO exercise Steadfast Defender in the German-Poland-Baltic area.

14 nations in the North Atlantic Alliance and partner Sweden join in with warships, aircraft, soldiers and command structures. Aimed to train defending the Nordic region, including Finland as NATO’s newest member, the exercise takes place from Bjerkvik to Alta in northern Norway and in the Norwegian- and Barents Sea.

Royal Navy does not inform how far north the HMS Prince of Wales will sail, more than mentioning “High North” which is a geographical term mostly used for waters above the Arctic Circle.

How many F-35B fighter jets there are onboard or how many later will fly in is not said.

A particular detail mentioned in the press statement, though, is the number of toilet rolls onboard: 30,000.

The carrier has a crew of 780, plus nearly 600 men and women designated to fly and serve the fleet of jets and helicopters.

Commenting on the exercise, Commander of the strike group James Blackmore says the warship will be “at the heart of the upcoming NATO maritime exercise.”


Before heading for Norwegian waters, HMS Prince of Wales is conducting a week’s training in the North Sea with her air group to hone the skills of the 780-strong ship’s company.

More than 50 warships will take part in Nordic Response 2024, including both surface vessels and an unknown number of submarines. 

Eight ships will be part of the HMS Prince of Wales carrier group now sailing north, four of them British, including frigate HMS Somerset and two Tide-class tankers from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – supported by US, Spanish and Danish vessels.



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