Portsmouth based sailors lightning jet trials interrupted by 4-legged visitors

Watch: Furry disruption on board Portsmouth based HMS Prince of Wales as sailors carry out F035 Lightning jet trials.

Sailors on board Portsmouth based HMS Prince of Wales were all smiles when treated to a break from their busy schedule in the form of four paws, furry coats and wagging tails.

The cuteness overload came courtesy of charity Mutts with a Mission who visited the aircraft carrier while she was alongside in the United States preparing to start F-35 Lightning jet trials.

Mutts with a Mission meet sailors on board HMS Prince of Wales Credit: Royal Navy

While embarking several hundred members of the fighter jets team, the ship hosted the charity - whose main mission is to boost morale among military personnel and help break down barriers caused by the stress of being on operations.

The dogs are all in training and were accompanied by their handlers, with the charity providing service and facility dogs to the United States Navy.

Two dogs, Ike and Sage, are currently on USS Gerald R Ford and USS Wasp as part of the ships’ welfare teams.

They are handled by either the ship’s chaplain or a member of the Welfare Team, alongside a handler provided by Mutts with a Mission.

The dogs' main mission is to boost morale Credit: Royal Navy

24-year-old air engineer AET Harry Thomas, on his first deployment, said: “I wanted to keep them all. They made me feel like I was back at home. I’ve got two dogs at home and made me realise I miss them.”

Leading Survival Equipment Technician Kelly Boddie added: “They just bring joy, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing.

It was cuddles all round on board HMS Prince of Wales Credit: Royal Navy

Merlin helicopter pilot Lt Phill Fordham said "hosting this visit on HMS Prince of Wales, you could see our sailors’ eyes light up when they were petting the dogs and even some tears being shed.

I have followed Mutts with a Mission over the past couple of years, since they placed the first full-time facility dogs on US carriers.

The charity has been incredibly supportive of this visit and I hope this can be the first step towards a similar programme in the Royal Navy.”

Sailors given a welcome break from duties Credit: Royal Navy

The dogs offered a welcome break for HMS Prince of Wales’ crew who have been busy preparing for F-35 trials since leaving their home port of Portsmouth in September.

Their hectic schedule will continue as she now prepares to push the boundaries during flight trials on the east coast.

Once the trials start, both the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers will be operating the fighter jets as HMS Queen Elizabeth - also based in Portsmouth - operates with NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies in the Arctic.

Mutts on a Mission visit Portsmouth based warship crew Credit: Royal Navy

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