HMS Prince of Wales has encountered delays in its departure from Portsmouth, impacting its scheduled participation in a Nato exercise. The vessel, set to replace HMS Queen Elizabeth following its mechanical breakdown, faced last-minute setbacks affecting its readiness.
Retired Rear Admiral Chris Parry expressed concerns over the reliability of the Royal Navy‘s carriers, noting a trend of maintenance-related challenges. Parry suggested that issues in preparing the carrier’s systems and equipment post-maintenance likely contributed to the departure postponement.
The HMS Prince of Wales was slated to join Exercise Steadfast Defender off Norway, a significant Nato operation reminiscent of the Cold War era. Despite rigorous preparation by its crew and base workers, the carrier’s departure was unexpectedly rescheduled, with the vessel staying in Portsmouth overnight for undisclosed reasons.
Parry highlighted the growing perception of the carriers being unreliable, attributing the delays to the complexities of maintaining such colossal machinery. The delayed deployment of the second carrier, though valuable for contingency, has lingered longer than hoped, indicating potential challenges in commissioning equipment and systems for service.
Last Sunday, HMS Queen Elizabeth had to abort its mission to the Norwegian exercise due to a mechanical issue with a coupling on the starboard propeller shaft. This incident mirrors a past breakdown in 2022 when HMS Prince of Wales faced a similar malfunction off the Isle of Wight, prompting a nine-month repair stint in Rosyth, Fife.
The Ministry of Defence previously clarified that the issues faced by the two carriers were distinct and unrelated. As both vessels navigate maintenance challenges, the reputation of the Royal Navy’s carriers hangs in the balance amidst operational disruptions and deployment uncertainties.
For more updates and breaking news, stay connected with BBC South‘s latest coverage on the evolving situation as HMS Prince of Wales addresses its departure delays and prepares to join Nato’s Exercise Steadfast Defender.
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