21 July 2023

HMS Prince of Wales leaves dry dock after nine months of repairs

21 July 2023

A Royal Navy aircraft carrier which broke down just a few miles from its home port has left dry dock nearly a year later after undergoing repairs and upgrades.

HMS Prince of Wales suffered a broken propeller shaft after it sailed from Portsmouth Naval Base in August 2022 for a diplomatic mission to the United States.

The £3 billion warship came to a halt off the Isle of Wight and was brought under tow back into harbour for the problem to be identified.

It was then taken to the Babcock shipyard where it was built in Rosyth, Scotland, to undergo the repairs which have taken nine months to complete.

Fears had been raised that the 65,000 tonne vessel was being “cannibalised” for parts to be used on sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth but Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said this was “perfectly normal” and the ship would return to service by the autumn.

The carrier moved out of dry dock at Rosyth and into the River Forth on Friday before it begins its journey back to Portsmouth.

A navy spokesman said: “The carrier will then build on her previous successes including acting as Nato’s command ship and leading the Maritime High Readiness Force in the Arctic, before she takes over from HMS Queen Elizabeth as the nation’s flagship towards the end of 2024.”

The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Hewitt, said: “We are returning HMS Prince of Wales to operations as the most advanced warship ever built for the Royal Navy.

“This year, we will be operating F-35s, V-22 Ospreys, drones and the RN Merlin helicopters – pushing the boundaries of naval aviation and UK Carrier Strike capability as we progress towards a global deployment in 2025.

“Our sailors are paramount to ensuring our return to operations. They have approached the task of getting us back to sea with the remarkable ethos that I have come to expect from them. They are a credit to the ship and the Royal Navy.”

The navy spokesman said that the ship’s engineering departments had worked with civilian engineers from Babcock to fix the propeller shafts along with BAE Systems which has also been carrying out previously-planned upgrade works.

He added that the 750-strong crew have undergone training and supported recruitment drives as well as taking part in civic events during the period of the repairs.

The spokesman added: “Once the ship has completed her propulsion trials, she will bring her flight deck back to life before returning to Portsmouth to prepare for her autumn deployment to the USA.”

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