Humiliation for £3bn HMS Prince of Wales as repairs delayed AGAIN

Humiliation for £3bn HMS Prince of Wales as repairs delayed AGAIN

October 7, 2022

Fresh humiliation for Britain’s £3bn flagship aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales as essential repairs to the flagship vessel are delayed AGAIN after a further ‘technical problem’ was found by divers

  • Repairs for Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales are delayed yet again
  • The £3 billion warship is understood to have suffered another technical problem
  • The Nato flagship broke down off the Isle of Wight in August days after its launch
  • Inspections by divers found the 33-ton starboard propeller had malfunctioned

The departure of beleaguered Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales to head for repairs has been delayed again after the £3 billion warship suffered a further technical problem.

The Nato flagship broke down off the Isle of Wight in August after sailing from Portsmouth Naval Base to take part in flight trials and diplomatic visits in the US.

Inspections by divers and engineers found that the 33-ton starboard propeller, the same weight as 30 Ford Fiesta cars, had malfunctioned with a coupling holding it in place breaking.

The carrier was taken back to Portsmouth for further examination by engineers from Babcock before the decision was taken for it to travel to Rosyth, Fife, where it was built, to undergo repairs in dry dock.

Britain’s flagship aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales pictured at Portsmouth Naval Base on Friday after its long-scheduled repairs were delayed again

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales returns to Portsmouth Naval Base after breaking down off the Isle of Wight

Britain’s crown jewel faced embarrassment on the world stage last week after the £3billion warship ground to a halt off the Isle of Wight because a starboard propeller shaft failed

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

The Royal Navy flagship carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (pictured above in Penzance in June) will stand in for its beleaguered sister ship for its landmark US diplomatic mission after the HMS Prince of Wales humiliatingly broke down just hours after launching last week

It had been expected to sail on Monday but work was not completed in time to remove the giant propeller and the sailing was delayed until 11am on Friday.

It is understood that an unconnected technical problem has now occurred onboard, meaning the departure has been put back again until at least 11pm.

The sailing is dependent on the issue being resolved as well as high tides to enable the giant warship to leave Portsmouth Harbour.

The Navy has not commented on how long the repairs at Rosyth are expected to take and how long HMS Prince of Wales will be absent from its role as Nato flagship, but it is understood it will be months rather than weeks.

Its sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth changed its autumn plans to travel to the US to take over some of the planned engagements including hosting the Atlantic Future Forum in New York – a defence conference aimed at strengthening UK and US bonds.

HMS Prince of Wales being moved to Stokes Bay near Gosport in Hampshire after breaking down near the Isle of Wight

Crew HMS Queen Elizabeth were warned they could set sail for the United States in its place, although MailOnline understands a final decision is yet to be made.

HMS Prince of Wales left Stokes Bay on Saturday afternoon accompanied by three tugs and returned to Portsmouth Naval Base under the power of a single propeller.

Navy divers who inspected HMS Prince of Wales found that a coupling on the propeller shaft had failed. The shaft is a combination of steel poles joined together with a shaft coupling, one of which has failed.

It is understood this was caused by a mechanical failure, not because of a failure to keep the coupling greased.

Lord West added: ‘You’d think when they were doing trials they might have spotted it. If it’s not an inherent design fault, it can be repaired quickly – and if it is, then someone needs their wrist slapped.’

It is thought that a period in dry dock – likely in Rosyth, Scotland – will be required to have a proper look at the area and carry out repairs. However, a better understanding of the problem is not expected before the end of the week.

Engineers inspect aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales as it sits off the coast of Gosport, Hampshire

Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse, director of Force Generation, who is responsible for making sure Royal Navy ships are ready to deploy, previously explained the fault suffered by HMS Prince of Wales.

He said: “Royal Navy divers have inspected the starboard shaft of the ship and the adjacent areas and they have 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.

“Our initial assessment has shown that coupling that joins the final two sections of the shaft has failed.

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

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “HMS Prince of Wales is preparing to sail to Rosyth to undergo repairs to her right propeller shaft.

“The full extent of the repairs will be known once the ship has entered dry dock.

“We are committed to getting HMS Prince of Wales back on operations, protecting the nation and our allies, as soon as possible.”

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