HMS Prince of Wales back in Portsmouth Harbour

HMS Prince of Wales has returned to its home port of Portsmouth after a ‘mechanical issue’ caused a break down in late August off the Isle of Wight. The aircraft carrier has been sheltering in Stokes Bay for a few days. It made the journey into Portsmouth using one propeller.

The warship will possibly sail on to Rosyth, Scotland, where it was built, after inspections are carried out and crew and equipment are unloaded, says the BBC.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail to the United States in the warship’s place.

The Royal Navy has “confirmed there is significant damage to the shaft on the propeller and some superficial damage to the rudder but no damage to the rest of the ship,” says Rear Adm Steve Moorhouse, director of Force Generation. Moorhouse says HMS Queen Elizabeth will take over the US duties.

“This is an extremely unusual fault and we continue to pursue all repair options,” he says.

The departure of the 65,000-tonne ship had already been delayed from the previous day because of a technical problem but a decision was taken to sail anyway, says the Daily Mail.

After it broke down, the carrier sailed back to Stokes Bay, Gosport, travelling at a rate of four knots accompanied by tugs.

Navy insiders who later inspected the 65,000-tonned NATO flagship initially indicated that the propeller shaft may have been damaged by a lack of lubrication, says the paper. Any overheating at this point due to friction could have damaged the metal shaft, sources added.

Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West warned that the timing of the fault – amid mounting fears that Putin’s barbaric war in Ukraine could widen into a world war – was ‘extremely unfortunate’ and an ’embarrassment’ to Britain.

The Nato flagship had been sailing to undertake training exercises with the US Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the US Marine Corps. The programme was expected to include exercises with their F-35B Lightning jets, says the Daily Mail.

Main image courtesy of Royal Navy.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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