‘Mechanical Issue’ Hits UK’s HMS Prince of Wales as It Heads for Exercises With US Navy

By Chris Summers
Chris Summers
Chris Summers
Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in crime, policing and the law.
August 29, 2022 Updated: August 29, 2022

The Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has broken down as it prepared to cross the Atlantic to join exercises off the U.S. coast.

The 65,000-tonne warship left from Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, on Saturday but hadn’t gone far before it was hit with mechanical problems.

A Royal Navy spokeswoman said, “HMS Prince of Wales remains in the South Coast Exercise Area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue.”

The Ministry of Defence has not commented on reports on the Navy Lookout website which said there had been “damage to the starboard propeller shaft.”

The carrier’s deck is 280 metres (918 feet) long—the length of three football pitches—and she can carry 36 F-35B Lightning jets and four Merlin helicopters.

The vessel had been due to leave Portsmouth on Friday but a technical issue delayed it for 24 hours.

Thousands of fans enjoying the Victorious music festival on Southsea Common had the added bonus of seeing the giant carrier sail past but it got no further than the Isle of Wight.

The £3 billion ($3.5 billion) ship was commissioned in 2019 but spent less than 90 days at sea in its first two years after being plagued by leaks, which flooded the engine room and damaged electrical systems.

HMS Prince of Wales is due to undertake join training exercises with the U.S. Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the Royal Canadian Navy, which will involve F-35B Lightning jets.

‘Push the Boundaries of Uncrewed Technology’

A Royal Navy spokesman said on Saturday: “HMS Prince of Wales will cross the Atlantic with her task group, ready to push the boundaries of uncrewed technology and the tactics used by the UK’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

“Along with notable port stops in New York, Halifax in Canada, and the Caribbean, the next three months will see the Prince of Wales task group work closely with U.S. allies, operating F-35B jets and uncrewed systems which will define Royal Navy aviation of the future.”

Its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was commissioned in 2017, is due to deploy to the Mediterranean and the Baltic this autumn.

The ships were both built at Rosyth dockyard in Scotland, slotted together like giant jigsaw puzzles after different pieces were constructed in other parts of the country and floated up by sea.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in crime, policing and the law.