HMS Prince of Wales could face lengthy spell in 'sheltered anchorage' after breakdown

The Royal Navy confirmed that the ship is suffering issues with its starboard shaft

Published Last updated

HMS Prince of Wales could be set for a lengthy spell in the dry dock for inspection after it broke down on Sunday.

The Royal Navy's £3billion aircraft carrier suffered a mechanical fault, and its "landmark mission" hangs in the balance as a result.

The warship was seen anchored off the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight on Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after it set sail for the US.

The Royal Navy later confirmed on Monday night that the ship was likely to be set for repairs due to a fault with the starboard shaft.

The aircraft carrier's maiden voyage plans may be in jeopardy.
The aircraft carrier's maiden voyage plans may be in jeopardy.

Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse, who takes up the responsibility of ensuring warships are ready for deployment, told The Telegraph: "Shortly after the ship sailed on Saturday, a mechanical fault was discovered with the starboard shaft.

"I’ve been to the ship today to see for myself what the issue is, and how we in the Royal Navy can work together to make sure that the ship can successfully returned to her tasking.

"After the initial assessment, it’s likely the fault will require repairs, which may impact the ship’s programme. The ship is now moving to a more sheltered anchorage for further inspection."

The ship has been moved to Stokes Bay from Sandown anchorage due to it being a more sheltered site, giving divers the opportunity to conduct thorough investigations.

The ship could be set for a lengthy spell in the dry dock.
The ship could be set for a lengthy spell in the dry dock.
The ship has been moved to Stokes Bay.
The ship has been moved to Stokes Bay.

On Monday, the Royal Navy tweeted: "You might be aware of issues with HMS Prince of Wales 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.

"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."

Any lengthy period of investigation could result in the ship's maiden voyage to the US being cancelled.

The Atlantic Future Forum, an annual gathering of senior politicians, military leaders and policy-makers across Western nations, is due to take place in September, and may be affected by the delay.

The Royal Navy describes HMS Prince of Wales' scheduled four-month deployment to North America as “a landmark mission to shape the future of stealth jet and drone operations off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean”.

Captain Richard Hewitt, the Commanding Officer, said ahead of the voyage: “Taking 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.”