HMS Queen Elizabeth to Replace Sister Ship in Exercises Off U.S. Coast

HMS Queen Elizabeth to Replace Sister Ship in Exercises Off U.S. Coast
The Royal Navy’s flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth pictured before returning to the Portsmouth in the UK on Dec. 9, 2021. (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Chris Summers
HMS Queen Elizabeth is heading across the Atlantic Ocean to replace her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, in joint manouevres with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, and the Royal Canadian Navy.

The Prince of Wales had been due to take part in the Westlant 22 exercises but suffered a “mechanical failure,” which turned out to be a broken starboard propeller shaft, after it left its home port of Portsmouth late last month.

The £3 billion aircraft carrier now faces several months of repairs in dry dock at Rosyth in Scotland.

The crew of the HMS Queen Elizabeth were told last week they would be redeployed because their sister ship was out of action.

The giant carrier, accompanied by the frigate HMS Richmond, will stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before taking part in flight trials with F-35B Lightning jets. It is also due to visit the Caribbean.

Carrier to Host Conference in New York

But the Royal Navy has confirmed the Atlantic Future Forum—an Anglo-American defence conference—will be hosted on board the carrier, in New York, at the end of the month.

HMS Queen Elizabeth will then cross the Atlantic again to take part in NATO exercises in the Baltic, the Mediterranean, and possibly the sensitive Black Sea region.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: “The operations are part of galvanised NATO efforts in the face of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine to safeguard security, stability, and prosperity across Europe.”

HMS Prince of Wales 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.

Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse 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. Now, this is an extremely unusual fault and we continue to pursue all repair options,” he said.

The Royal Navy had no aircraft carriers, for the first time since 1918, between 2014 and 2017.

HMS Ark Royal was decommissioned in 2011 and HMS Illustrious followed in 2014, three years before HMS Queen Elizabeth came into service.

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