Former First Sea Lord: HMS Queen Elizabeth Captain's Removal 'Bemusing'

Captain Nick Cooke-Priest was removed from the aircraft carrier during what was to be one of his final journeys in command.

A former First Sea Lord has backed the crew of HMS Queen Elizabeth to succeed, despite "confusion" around the Royal Navy's decision to remove Captain Nick-Cooke Priest from the carrier.

Commanding Officer Capt Cooke-Priest was taken off the carrier as a "precautionary measure" on Wednesday.

He had been due to sail the aircraft carrier to Portsmouth from Scotland before handing over command.

It followed an announcement last week that Capt Cooke-Priest was being "reassigned" following reports he had mis-used the ship's car.

Commenting on the incident, former Navy chief Admiral Lord West said he was very surprised to hear about the Navy's decision and described the situation as "bemusing".

"We'd been told specifically he was going back up to join the ship, and was going to bring the ship down to Portsmouth," Lord West said.

"It seemed extraordinary that he was then suddenly helicoptered off the ship and was not bringing it back."

Talking further about the administrative decision to remove the Captain as a "precautionary measure", Lord West said he thought there was "confusion" over the manoeuvre.

Captain Nick Cooke-Priest on board HMS Queen Elizabeth
Captain Nick Cooke-Priest has been in charge of HMS Queen Elizabeth since October (Picture: MOD).

While describing the events of the past week as "unsettling" for HMS Queen Elizabeth's crew, Lord West said: "The Navy is very resilient and will be able to get over that."

"[The service is designed to] lose great chunks of people and still get on with things."

It is understood Capt Nick Cooke-Priest is to be succeeded by Captain Steve Moorhouse as Commanding Officer later this month.

Capt Cooke-Priest became Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth last October, taking over from Commodore Jerry Kyd.

Capt Moorhouse is currently in charge of HMS Prince of Wales, Queen Elizabeth's sister ship.