More embarrassment for Navy as second ship fails to depart on Nato exercise
A Royal Navy aircraft carrier failed to depart on schedule for a Nato exercise just a week after its sister ship had to pull out due to a mechanical fault.
HMS Prince of Wales had been due to depart from Portsmouth, on the UK’s south coast, at 12:15pm on Sunday (12 February 2024), according to the harbourmaster. The £3bn vessel was expected to deploy from the naval base to Norway and join Exercise Steadfast Defender, which is one of the largest Nato exercises since the Cold War.
Hundreds of people had lined Portsmouth Harbour to watch the carrier’s scheduled departure, when police told crowds the vessel would no longer be sailing, and the port was reopened to normal marine traffic.
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the aircraft carrier will sail soon, ‘subject to suitable tide and weather conditions’. The MOD did not give a reason for the last-minute postponement of the sailing.
HMS Prince of Wales had been called up to replace the flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth, which also failed to depart as planned on 4 February, after last-minute checks revealed mechanical issues with the starboard propeller shaft coupling.
In an update issued late this morning (12 February 2024), the MOD confirmed that HMS Prince of Wales is now likely to depart ‘later today’ without clarifying the cause of the delay.
Just 18 months ago, HMS Prince of Wales broke down near Portsmouth after setting sail for America – also due to a faulty propeller shaft.
In January, a Royal Navy minesweeper collided with another in Bahrain, when a wiring error inadvertently sent the vessel into reverse.
MIN recently reported that the Royal Navy had attracted criticism for appearing ‘desperate’ after advertising for a rear-Admiral on Linkedin.
Main image of HMS Prince of Wales by Dane Wiedman.