Royal Navy ship flooding a weekly problem, says HMS Queen Elizabeth captain

UK’s largest warship departs for joint military exercises with US on Friday

Andy Gregory
Tuesday 03 September 2019 14:44
HMS Queen Elizabeth to deploy to US to test British jets on flight deck

The commanding officer of Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has estimated that royal navy ships suffer “weekly” floods.

The £3bn warship had to be recalled from sea trials in July after 200 tonnes of water spilled from a burst pipe.

Three people were at risk of drowning as the torrent buckled stairwells, bent bulkheads and flooded three decks, Forces News reported.

But Captain Steve Moorhouse insisted the navy’s largest ever warship was “ready to sail” as it prepared to carry nearly 1,500 people across the Atlantic on Friday.

The 280m carrier left Portsmouth at midday to take part in joint military exercises with the US along the country’s east coast, alongside fighter jets, helicopters and other warships.

“This is the sixth ship I have been the captain of, it’s been a huge privilege for me in the royal navy, and I reckon the average is a flood a week in every ship I have been captain of,” said Captain Moorhouse.

“The design is absolutely world class but it’s inevitable that seals and valves can fail if you haven’t run systems for years, it’s not a surprise.

“Floods are part of the business, the really reassuring thing is that my sailors responded exactly as you would want them to, so all done and dusted, we are ready to sail.”

The July incident is not the first flood reported on the carrier in previous years. In 2017, weeks after the Queen commissioned it into the navy, it suffered a shaft seal leak, which reportedly let in 200l of water each hour, costing millions of pounds to fix.

At the time, a royal navy spokesperson said the damage would not prevent the ship from taking part in sea trials and that the damage would be repaired at Portsmouth.

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson insisted on Thursday that while “minor repairs continue” and “cosmetic after-effects remain, these do not affect the ship’s safe operation”.

“After the flooding incident that took place in HMS Queen Elizabeth last month, engineers have worked hard to resolve the cause of the issue,” they said. “The flood itself caused damage to a ‘service trunk’ and some of the pipework contained within it. In all cases, affected pipework has been repaired.”

Iranian boats attempt to intercept British oil tanker before Navy frigate 'turns guns on vessels'

The ship set off from Portsmouth naval base just after midday.

Before its departure, defence procurement minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan stood onboard and declared that even had it been in operation, the ship wouldn’t have been deployed to defend Britain’s interests in the Strait of Hormuz in July.

Referring to Iran’s seizure of a British oil tanker, Ms Trevelyan said the vast warship would not have been necessary to deter “cheeky Iranians in their little fast boats”.

Additional reporting by PA

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