HMS Prince of Wales: why has Royal Navy aircraft carrier broken down, location now, and where was it built?

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The HMS Prince of Wales has reportedly experienced an ‘emerging mechanical issue’

The HMS Prince of Wales has broken down after setting sail for training exercises in America.

The UK’s largest warship and Nato’s flagship carrier left Portsmouth Naval Base on Saturday 27 August before it ran into an “emerging mechanical issue.”

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The 65,000-tonne ship was treated to a musical sendoff, as it passed by the Victorious music festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth.

Pop group the Sugababes were in the middle of their set when the enormous aircraft carrier sailed past.

The HMS Prince of Wales was sailing across the Atlantic to take part in training exercise with the US military and the Royal Canadian Navy.

Here’s everything you need to know about why the HMS Prince of Wales has broken down.

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People watch the HMS Prince of Wales depart from Portsmouth, England (Pic: Getty Images)People watch the HMS Prince of Wales depart from Portsmouth, England (Pic: Getty Images)
People watch the HMS Prince of Wales depart from Portsmouth, England (Pic: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Why has HMS Prince of Wales broken down?

The aircraft carrier has reportedly broken down due to an “emerging mechanical issue.”

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “HMS Prince of Wales remains in the South Coast Exercise Area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue.”

According to Navy Lookout, divers have inspected the carrier, blaming the issue on damage to a propeller shaft.

The ship was originally meant to depart for the USA on Friday 26 August, but this was delayed due to a technical issue.

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It has not been disclosed yet if the two faults are related.

The HMS Prince Wales has been plagued by technical and mechanical issues.

In its first two years of service it only managed to spend 90 days at sea after suffering two leaks in five months.

In 2020 it also made headlines after getting stranded in Portsmouth after its engine room flooded and damaged the electrics.

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The HMS Prince of Wales was due to sail to America (Pic: AFP via Getty Images)The HMS Prince of Wales was due to sail to America (Pic: AFP via Getty Images)
The HMS Prince of Wales was due to sail to America (Pic: AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Where has Royal Navy aircraft carrier broken down?

The carrier has broken down in the South Coast Exercise Area which is located near the Isle of Wight.

A spokesperson for the Royal Navy said: “HMS Prince of Wales remains in the South Coast Exercise Area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue.”

Where was it going?

The HMS Prince of Wales had set sail across the Atlantic, with stops in Halifax, Nova Scotia, New York and the Caribbean.

Its team of 1,600 crew were due to work with US military personnel and the Royal Canadian Navy on a F-35B jet programme.

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Describing the route on 27 August, a spokesperson for the Royal Navy said: “HMS Prince of Wales will cross the Atlantic with her task group, ready to push the boundaries of un-crewed technology and the tactics used by the UK’s two new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

“Along with notable port stops in New York, Halifax in Canada, and the Caribbean, the next three months will see the Prince of Wales task group work closely with US allies, operating F-35B jets and un-crewed systems which will define Royal Navy aviation of the future.

“With fleet flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth also set to deploy to the Mediterranean and Baltic this autumn at the heart of a potent Royal Navy task group, it will mean both UK aircraft carriers will be operating F-35B jets thousands of miles apart.”

The carrier left Portsmouth in a spectacular sendoff, sailing past the Victorious music festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth during a performance from the pop group Sugarbabes.

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It was originally meant to set sail on Friday 26 August, but the voyage had been delayed until the following day due to a technical issue.

The Royal Navy has not confirmed if the two issues are related.

Where was it built?

The HMS Prince of Wales was built at Rosyth Dockyard, on the Firth of Forth at Rosyth, Fife, Scotland.

Construction began in 2011, with the aircraft carrier launched on 21 December, 2017.

The warship was given to the Royal Navy in 2019.

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