UPDATE: Today the Royal Navy news site Navy Lookout provided the following comments: “The reason HMS Prince of Wales could not begin her planned deployment is that an external SKF coupling that connects the outer propellor shaft to the drive shaft from the propulsion motors failed. This is a rare event and a situation described by the First Sea Lord as “unprecedented” as few marine engineers can remember an instance of this happening.” Visit Navy Lookout to read their full update.
Britain’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales suffered a serious mechanical issue that will require drydocking. The UK Defense Journal reports that the propeller was damaged after “hitting something on the sea bed” but the Royal Navy said it was a “mechanical fault on the starboard shaft.” This occurred on Saturday shortly after leaving southern England for what was described as a “landmark mission” with the US Navy.
Sources aboard the ship told the UK Defence Journal that the damaged aircraft carrier will likely head to a drydock in Amsterdam for repairs.
The Prince of Wales is one of two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, the largest ships in the Royal Navy. It can carry up to 40 aircraft and was due to become fully operational in 2023.
The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, which cost 3.1 billion pounds to build, left Portsmouth on Saturday for a three-month exercise working closely with the United States Navy on stealth jet and drone operations off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean.
“HMS Prince of Wales remains in the South Coast Exercise Area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue,” a Royal Navy spokesperson said in the official statement.
The ship was anchored off the Isle of Wight yesterday and divers were sent down to determine what was wrong. Today the ship was cleared to limp back to Portsmouth while final repair arrangements are made.
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