British aircraft carrier departs Portsmouth for repairs

Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales has left Portsmouth and is heading for Rosyth for work on her starboard (right hand) propeller shaft which suffered a mechanical defect as the ship left for New York last month.

aircraft carrier
Illustration. Courtesy of Royal Navy

Inspections by divers revealed the shaft coupling had failed. The fastest and safest way to repair it and return the ship to operations will mean the carrier will enter dry dock in Rosyth, one of the few yards capable of accommodating the 65,000-tonne warship.

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Since the aircraft carrier returned to Portsmouth Naval Base in early September, the ship’s engineers have been working with divers and expert naval architects and engineers from Babcock – who run the dockyard at Rosyth – and the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation to work out what is needed to return HMS Prince of Wales back to operations.

However, the extent of and the timescale for the repairs will not be fully known until the ship is in dry dock and has been thoroughly inspected by engineers, but the goal is to return HMS Prince of Wales to front-line operations as quickly and safely as possible, according to the navy.

In the meantime, the 33-ton starboard propeller was removed ahead of her journey to the Firth of Forth.

The ship has sailed with a full complement of crew – 750 men and women – who will remain with the ship and continue training for renewed operations as well as supporting the maintenance package while in Rosyth. While alongside in Rosyth, they will continue to crew and train on the ship’s systems for their operational roles.

While under repair, her autumn programme that included operating with F35B lightning, MV22 Osprey and UAVs off the Eastern Seaboard of the USA is currently being rescheduled for 2023.

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Photo: Courtesy of Royal Navy