HMS Prince of Wales may miss US jet flight trials after propeller shaft issue

The £3bn warship suffered a propeller shaft malfunction in waters off the Isle of Wight on Saturday

Emily Atkinson
Monday 29 August 2022 23:06 BST
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<p>Festival goers at the Victorious Festival on Southsea Common gave Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales a colourful send-off (Ben Mitchell/PA)</p>

Festival goers at the Victorious Festival on Southsea Common gave Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales a colourful send-off (Ben Mitchell/PA)

The HMS Prince of Wales may miss flight trials with F-35B Lightning jets off the US coast as it’s taken in for repairs following a breakdown shortly after starting its voyage.

The £3bn aircraft carrier left Portsmouth Naval Base on Saturday before suffering a propeller shaft malfunction in waters off the Isle of Wight, the Royal Navy has confirmed.

The departure of the 65,000-tonne Nato warship had already been delayed from Friday due to a technical problem, but it is not known if the two incidents were related.

The vessel was stranded about five miles from Shanklin due to the problem before it slowly made its way back to Stokes Bay at Gosport, Hampshire, accompanied by tugs on Monday, where the damaged shaft is set to be assessed.

Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse, director of Force Generation, whose job it is to make sure Royal Navy ships are ready to deploy, said in a video statement that he had visited the ship to ensure engineers could “successfully return to her tasking”.

“After the initial assessment, it’s likely that the fault will require repairs which may impact the ship’s programme.

“The ship is now moving to a more sheltered anchorage for further inspection and then we’ll be able to provide further comment on the nature of the issue and the impact to her current schedule.

“We’ve reacted quickly to the emergent defect and are working closely with industry partners to resolve this as soon as we can.

“Rest assured, the Royal Navy continues to meet its commitments to deliver operations and to keep the UK, our partners and allies safe.”

Specialist website Navy Lookout reported that a photograph of the carrier leaving Portsmouth showed wake only on the port side, suggesting a problem with the other propeller shaft.

It added that the ship may need to be fixed at a dry dock at Rosyth, Scotland, if the issue cannot be fixed in situ.

The ship was on its way to start training exercises with the US Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the US Marine Corps, including trials with F-35B Lightning jets, when it broke down.

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