Navy

HMS Prince of Wales returns to Portsmouth before expected dry-dock repair

Divers discovered damage to HMS Prince of Wales' starboard shaft just 48 hours after leaving Portsmouth.

HMS Prince of Wales has returned to Portsmouth after suffering significant damage to both her shaft and propellor.

The carrier had been heading to a deployment in the US but, just 48 hours after HMS Prince of Wales left Portsmouth for the US for exercises, a mechanical fault was discovered.

In an update posted on Twitter, Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse, Commanding Officer of HMS Prince of Wales, said the carrier would now probably enter a dry dock for repairs – with HMS Queen Elizabeth heading to the US instead.

The Royal Navy had said a complex repair would be carried out to fix HMS Prince of Wales' failed shaft coupling.

Divers surveyed the damage to the aircraft carrier's starboard propellor and shaft, following her breakdown.

Earlier this week, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said it looked likely that HMS Prince of Wales would have to go in to dry dock to be fixed.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: "Diving inspections on HMS Prince of Wales' starboard shaft have shown that a shaft coupling has failed.

"We are looking at the best way to carry out what will be a complex repair and assessing options for the delivery of Royal Navy outputs against current priorities and future commitments and will update in due course."

The £3bn aircraft carrier had broken down off the Isle of Wight and Forces News understands she was then assisted back to Gosport, aided by tugs, to find calmer waters so divers could assess the damage to the shaft.

The propeller shaft is made up of a number of 'steel poles' joined together, with the engine on one end and the propeller on the other. Each of the poles is joined together with a 'shaft coupling' which is where the fault has been identified on the Prince of Wales.