The Royal Navy's new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers appear to have hit what some are claiming is a major stumbling block, or dock.
The £6.2 billion ships will not be able to use the new £10 million naval base in Bahrain as it is too shallow.
In a written answer in Parliament, Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt MP tried to assuage the problem, saying: “The Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) carriers will be able to utilise the Mina Salman Support Facilities whilst at anchor in the vicinity of the port in Bahrain."
The Mina Salman Port in Bahrain pictured on board of USS Gunston Hall
Followed by the slightly more revelatory:
“Due to draught constraints QEC carriers will not be able to berth directly alongside the Mina Salman Support Facility itself.”
SNP defence spokesman Douglas Chapman was quick to condemn the MoD’s “incompetent” handling of building the facility.
He said: “It seems a nonsense that the MoD is building a new port facility that is not big enough for the new aircraft carriers to dock in.”
The MoD has put £10 million into the Mina Salman support facility in Bahrain after the U.S. decided to withdraw use of its docking facilities by the Royal Navy.
HMS Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier in Rosyth dockyard
Mr Chapman said: “If the new aircraft carriers can’t deploy in Bahrain in a safe manner, it’s a real embarrassment for the MoD.
“As a member of the defence select committee, I’ve heard evidence that indicates Royal Navy ships, including the carriers, could be deployed in the Gulf on a more regular basis as the US Navy changes focus or ‘pivots’ to Asia.
“Security is paramount in such a volatile region, and the size and importance of the carriers mean they will undoubtedly have a role to play.
“This is an area of high tension and there have been terrorist attacks on the US Navy in the Gulf."
Speaking to Forces TV an MoD spokesperson said: "We do not envisage a future requirement to bring the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) carriers alongside in Bahrain."
"The enhanced facilities at the Mina Salman Port in Bahrain will provide better support for operations in the region including supporting training, equipment storage and multi-purpose accommodation for Service personnel, it will also provide a permanent presence for UK mine hunters."
The new facility will have a running cost of £12 million a year from 2017/18.