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HMS Prince of Wales moved to 'better location for inspection'

Britain’s five-year-old £3billion aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales moved to a ‘better location for inspection’ after breaking down off the south coast of England following an ‘emergency mechanical issue’

  • The warship reportedly suffered ‘damage to its propeller shaft’ yesterday
  • It was reportedly forced to anchor near Isle of Wight, according to Royal Navy
  • Now, the carrier’s position has reportedly moved a few miles north then west
  • It already delayed departure from Portsmouth on Friday due to technical issue
  • If its trip goes ahead, the warship is due to undertake training exercises in the US

The UK’s biggest warship has been moved to a better location for inspection after it broke down off the south coast of England yesterday due to ‘damage to its propeller shaft’ when it had just set sail for a major mission to the United States.

The five-year-old HMS Prince of Wales, which is the second of the Royal Navy’s two aircraft carriers, suffered an ’emerging mechanical issue’ near the Isle of Wight yesterday, according to a Royal Navy spokesperson.

This came after the £3 billion carrier already had to delay its departure on Friday from Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, by a day because of a technical issue – but it is not known if the two incidents are related.

The 65,000-tonne warship was reportedly anchored south east of the Isle of Wight as an investigation into the problem was carried out.

Now, its position on MarineTraffic.com appears to have moved a few miles north then west, according to Sky News, towards Stokes Bay, Gosport.

It is understood the carrier is being taken somewhere it can be more easily inspected, with the sheltered area at Stokes Bay offering a more straightforward place for divers to examine any damage.

 The £3 billion carrier already had to delay its departure on Friday from Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, by a day because of a technical issue

The Nato flagship is due to undertake training exercises with the US Navy as well as the Royal Canadian Navy, United States Marine Corps. The programme is expected to include exercises with the F-35B Lightning jets 

The Royal Navy posted on Twitter: ‘You might be aware of issues with @HMSPWLS since leaving her home port of Portsmouth on Saturday. We are in the process of moving her to a different anchorage which is better suited to allow for further inspection of the ship.’

Another tweet from its account read: ‘Right now our focus is on the ship and our people; everyone is working hard to understand the problem and what can be done next.’

Yesterday, a Royal Navy spokesperson told Sky News the HMS Prince of Wales remained anchored in the South Coast Exercise Area amid ongoing ‘investigations into an emerging mechanical issue’.

The UK Defence Journal, the online news site that first reported on the problem, claimed the issue was specifically related to damage to the starboard propeller shaft.

The five-year-old HMS Prince of Wales is the second of the Royal Navy’s two aircraft carriers 

The Royal Navy posted updates about the HMS Prince of Wales on Twitter

It reported: ‘A source told me that divers were sent down to determine what was wrong after issues were noticed onboard, and once they returned, the divers had concerns over the starboard propellor shaft

‘I was told that the shaft itself appears to be damaged, but I don’t believe it’s appropriate to comment on the extent of any potential damage at this stage, given the specifics of any damage cannot be confirmed.’

Another specialist news site, Navy Lookout, reported that the carrier had suffered a ‘significant technical fault’.

It again cited the unconfirmed claims that there has been ‘damage to the starboard propeller shaft’, similarly adding that ‘divers have been inspecting the ship below the waterline’.

If the trip still goes ahead, it has been described by the Royal Navy as set to ‘shape the future of stealth jet and drone operations off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean’.

The warship was given a colourful send-off as it sailed passed thousands of music-lovers at the Victorious music festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth on Saturday (dancer Sally Turner of Hoop Shaker is pictured)

Family and friends waving to sailors on board HMS Prince of Wales as it set sail on Saturday

The carrier’s departure came a day late, although a Royal Navy spokesman declined to comment on the reason for the postponement

The Nato flagship is due to undertake training exercises with the US Navy as well as the Royal Canadian Navy, United States Marine Corps. The programme is expected to include exercises with the F-35B Lightning jets.

The warship was given a colourful send-off as it sailed passed thousands of music-lovers at the Victorious music festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth on Saturday.

Its departure came a day late, although a Royal Navy spokesman declined to comment on the reason for the postponement. They said: ‘HMS Prince of Wales’ departure has been delayed. This will not affect her onward programme.’

A graphic shows how the Queen Elizabeth class of carriers – which includes two vessels; the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – can produce 500 tonnes of fresh water from sea water daily

Pictured: The Queen Elizabeth class features HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales

But yesterday the carrier was then reportedly at anchor. The UK Defence Journal was told by the Ministry of Defence: ‘Having sailed from Portsmouth, HMS PRINCE OF WALES remains in the South Coast Exercise Area.’ 

But Navy Lookout reported yesterday that the official line is the mission is still due to happen, with a Royal Navy spokesperson telling the site: ‘We expect her to continue her WESTLANT 22 deployment as planned in the coming days.’

Before the mechanical issue and to mark the warship’s departure, Commanding Officer Captain Richard Hewitt had said in a statement: ‘Taking the HMS Prince of Wales task group across the Atlantic for the rest of this year will not only push the boundaries of UK carrier operations, but will reinforce our close working relationship with our closest ally.

‘From operating the F35 Lightnings and drones to hosting the Atlantic Future Forum, none of this would be possible without the efforts of the amazing sailors on board, many of which are on their first deployment with the Royal Navy.’

MailOnline contacted the Ministry of Defence for comment. 

HMS Prince of Wales: The numbers behind Navy’s newest aircraft carrier 

Cost: £3.3 billion. Originally £3billion, various faults and repairs drove up the cost.

Weight: 65,000

Crew: 1,600 when fully functional.

Dimensions: More than 900ft long and 230ft wide, with four-acre decks about the size of three football pitches.

Speed: Top speed of 28 mph. Capable of travelling 500 miles a day.

Fighter jets: Capacity for 36 F35-B Lightning II fighter jets. The jets can be lifted from the below-deck hangar to the deck in just 60 seconds.

Weapons: Weapon system capable of firing 3,000 rounds per minute.

Radars: Long-range radars can track up to 1,000 aerial targets from up to 250 nautical miles away.

Type 997 Artisan 3D medium range radars can track a target the size of a ball from a distance of 12 miles. 

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