'HMS Prince of Wales' breaks down on day one of voyage

Aircraft carrier given a grand send-off on Saturday, but looks to have barely made it out of UK waters

The British Royal Navy aircraft carrier 'HMS Prince of Wales' at Portsmouth naval base in June. PA
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The British aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is in difficulties off the UK coast, shortly after setting sail on a transatlantic voyage to visit Nato allies.

Britain’s biggest warship was believed to be off the Isle of Wight, a few kilometres from its base in Portsmouth on the English south coast.

HMS Prince of Wales remains in the south coast exercise area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue,” a Royal Navy representative told The National.

HMS Prince of Wales, a 65,000-tonne vessel, was on a “landmark mission” to Canada and the US where it was to take part in exercises using uncrewed systems.

The vessel had been given a grand send-off on Saturday, but looks to have barely made it out of UK waters.

The technical fault was first reported by UK Defence Journal, which referred to possible damage to the starboard propeller shaft.

The Prince of Wales has a “significant technical fault”, Navy Lookout reported.

“Should the issue prove to be serious it goes without saying that this is extremely unfortunate and not a good look for the RN [Royal Navy]."

The warship left Portsmouth on what the Royal Navy called a mission to “shape the future of stealth jet and drone operations off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean”.

It is not immediately apparent how long the Prince of Wales will be delayed.

It was to cross the Atlantic with its task group for port stops in New York, Halifax, Canada and the Caribbean. The task group was to work closely with US allies, operating F-35B jets and uncrewed systems

The warship was alongside frigate HMS Richmond, tanker RFA Tideforce and an air group of helicopters and drones, before F-35B stealth fighters join when the ship arrives in North America.

The visit will build on the close collaboration between the US Navy, Marine Corps and Royal Navy.

Updated: August 29, 2022, 12:06 AM
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