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HMS Prince of Wales could miss a US mission milestone due to propeller shaft problem

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The Royal Navy’s largest warship could miss important tests of high-tech fighter jets and drones in the US as engineers scramble to fix a starboard propeller shaft problem.

The £3 billion HMS Prince of Wales was sailing on training exercises with the US Navy and the Marine Corps and Royal Canadian Navy when it broke down off the Isle of Wight on Saturday.

A spokesman had boasted that during the four-month journey, the ship would operate F-35B jets and “unconfirmed” drone systems that “will define the Royal Navy aviation of the future.”

Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse, who is responsible for ensuring that the Royal Navy’s ships are ready for deployment, confirmed in a statement last night that a “mechanical fault has been detected with the starboard shaft”.

A navy source told the Daily Mail last night that the outage was a “serious setback” that allowed the ship to “be taken out of the water” and put into dry dock. It may take a “considerable period of time to resolve the issue,” she added.

It means the ship is at serious risk of missing US tests, as Admiral Moorhouse said when he said the flaw “requires repairs that could affect the ship’s program.”

The incident has left naval chiefs now having to decide whether to take the other British aircraft carrier – the HMS Queen Elizabeth – out to sea instead.

Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘We have a problem here with a hugely complex piece of machinery, warships are technologically advanced these days. In some ways they are quite fragile and just like a car, sometimes you take it out and you have a mechanical breakdown that you have to deal with.”

Echoing fears that the ship could be pulled out of the water, he added that if a “serious fault” is discovered, the ship “must come back alongside or even go into some sort of dry-dock arrangement.”

On Monday afternoon, the 65,000-ton carrier suffered about five miles from Shanklin before stumbling back to Stokes Bay in Gosport, Hampshire, traveling at four knots accompanied by tugboats for the return journey to calmer waters.

Obviously divers can assess the damaged shaft by anchoring in the sheltered bay off Portsmouth.

The Royal Navy’s largest warship could miss important tests of high-tech fighter jets and drones in the US as engineers scramble to fix a starboard propeller shaft problem. The £3 billion HMS Prince of Wales was sailing to do training exercises with the US Navy and the Marine Corps and Royal Canadian Navy when it broke down off the Isle of Wight on Saturday

The Prince of Wales’s departure was initially postponed on Friday due to a technical issue, although it is not known whether this is related to the ensuing propeller problem.

HMS Prince of Wales: The Figures Behind the Navy’s Latest Aircraft Carrier

Cost: £3.3 billion. Originally £3bn, various breakdowns and repairs drove up costs.

Weight: 65,000

Crew: 1600 when fully functional.

Dimensions: Over 900 feet long and 230 feet wide, with four-acre decks the size of three football fields.

Speed: Top speed of 28 mph. Able to travel 500 miles a day.

Fighter Jets: Capacity for 36 F35-B Lightning II fighter jets. The jets can be lifted from the hangar below to the deck in just 60 seconds.

Weapons: Weapon system capable of firing 3,000 rounds per minute.

radars: Long-range radars can track up to 1,000 air targets at a range of up to 250 nautical miles.

Type 997 Artisan 3D medium range radars can track a ball-sized target from a distance of 12 miles.

Rear Admiral Moorhouse, director of Force Generation, said in a video statement last night: “Shortly after the ship departed on Saturday, a mechanical failure was discovered on the starboard shaft.

“I went to the ship today to see for myself what the problem is and how we as the Royal Navy can work together to ensure that the ship can be successfully deployed again.

“After the initial assessment, there is a high probability that the fault will require repair, which could affect the ship’s schedule.

“The ship will now move to a more sheltered anchorage for further inspection and then we can comment further on the nature of the problem and the impact on her current schedule.

“We responded quickly to the emerging defect and are working closely with industry partners to resolve it as quickly as possible.

“Rest assured, the Royal Navy continues to fulfill its obligations to conduct operations and keep the UK, our partners and allies safe.”

Last night, a navy source told the Daily Mail: ‘This is a serious setback… She will take a significant amount of time to recover. She will need to return to port and may need to be taken out of the water.

“There’s a lot of headaches about what we’re going to do now.”

Referring to the exercises in the US, they said: ‘HMS Prince of Wales was meant to be at the forefront of next month’s Future Atlantic Forum.

‘That looks very doubtful. So do we get HMS Queen Elizabeth ready instead? Or just send other ships and the plane? It’s a headache.’

The Royal Navy’s latest update on Twitter reads: ‘You may be aware of problems with @HMSPWLS since leaving its home port of Portsmouth on Saturday.

“We are in the process of moving her to another anchorage better suited to allow further inspection of the ship.”

Admiral Steve Moorhouse, director of Force Generation, which is responsible for ensuring the Royal Navy's ships are ready for deployment, has not ruled out a possible impact on the ship's program.  Above: The ship after breaking down

Admiral Steve Moorhouse, director of Force Generation, which is responsible for ensuring the Royal Navy’s ships are ready for deployment, has not ruled out a possible impact on the ship’s program. Above: The ship after breaking down

The carrier languished about five miles from Shanklin before then hobbled back to Stokes Bay in Gosport, Hampshire, traveling at four knots accompanied by tugboats for the return journey to calmer waters.

The carrier languished about five miles from Shanklin before then hobbled back to Stokes Bay in Gosport, Hampshire, traveling at four knots accompanied by tugboats for the return journey to calmer waters.

The latest outage follows numerous leaks on the ship in 2020 that damaged electrical cables. It was declared fully operational last October after experiencing technical difficulties during sea trials.

On Saturday, a Navy spokesman gave details about the Prince of Wales’ upcoming mission.

They said: ‘HMS Prince of Wales will cross the Atlantic with her task force ready to push the boundaries of unmanned technology and the tactics used by Britain’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class airlines.

Along with notable port stops in New York, Halifax in Canada and the Caribbean, the Prince of Wales Task Force will work closely with U.S. allies over the next three months, using F-35B jets and unmanned systems to support the Royal Navy. aviation of the future.

The carrier had a colorful farewell as it left on Saturday afternoon, passing thousands of music lovers at the Victorious Festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth.

The carrier had a colorful farewell as it left on Saturday afternoon, passing thousands of music lovers at the Victorious Festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth.

The carrier's departure came a day late, though a Royal Navy spokesman declined to comment on the reason for the delay

The carrier’s departure came a day late, though a Royal Navy spokesman declined to comment on the reason for the delay

An image shows how the Queen Elizabeth class of carriers - which includes two ships;  the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales - can produce 500 tons of freshwater daily from seawater

An image shows how the Queen Elizabeth class of carriers – which includes two ships; the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales – can produce 500 tons of freshwater daily from seawater

Pictured: The Queen Elizabeth class with HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales

Pictured: The Queen Elizabeth class with HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales

With the flagship of the fleet, HMS Queen Elizabeth, also due to be deployed to the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas this autumn at the heart of a powerful Royal Navy task force, this means that both British aircraft carriers will deploy F-35B jets. use that are thousands of miles apart.’

Rear Admiral Parry said today he does not believe the issue is serious enough to bring the ship to dry dock.

“I don’t think that’s the case at the moment,” he said. “From what I’ve collected and from how the ship is currently viewed, they expect to be able to fix it internally and then carry on as usual.”

He added that he does not believe the Queen Elizabeth will fit into the Prince of Wales’s program.

“She has her own tasks, her own maintenance routines. The threat levels are not such that we need a continuous carrier at sea at this point,” he said.

The carrier had a colorful farewell as it left on Saturday afternoon, passing thousands of music lovers at the Victorious Festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth.

Pop favorites Sugababes were in the middle of their set as the giant ship sailed by with the crew past the cockpit to get a view of the festival.

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