HMS Prince of Wales replaces HMS Queen Elizabeth on Nato mission
HMS Prince of Wales is set to stand in for aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on a Nato exercise after a problem was found on the flagship.
Fleet Cdr Vice Adm Andrew Burns said: "Routine pre-sailing checks yesterday identified an issue with a coupling on HMS Queen Elizabeth's starboard propeller shaft. As such, the ship will not sail on Sunday.
"HMS Prince of Wales will take her place on Nato duties and will set sail for Exercise Steadfast Defender as soon as possible."
Before heading to the Arctic, the carrier strike group will take part in the annual Joint Warrior exercise off northern Scotland before joining Exercise Nordic Response - the maritime part of Steadfast Defender.
The Royal Navy said the fleet of 40 vessels taking part in the exercise come from more than 24 nations.
In August 2022, the Prince of Wales broke down - also with a propeller shaft problem - shortly after leaving Portsmouth and had to go into dry dock for repairs.
The Queen Elizabeth sailed to the US in place of its sister ship for the training exercises off the coast of North America.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the issue on HMS Queen Elizabeth was "separate and not linked" to the earlier defect on its sister ship.
He said: "The issue identified is with the ship's shaft couplings. The ship's propeller shafts are too big to be made from a single piece of metal so each shaft is made from three sections, which are connected using shaft couplings, which bind the shaft sections together."
HMS Prince of Wales was taken to the Babcock shipyard, where it was built, in Rosyth, Fife. Repairs were made to a propeller shaft, which took nine months to complete.
The carrier had come to a halt off the Isle of Wight and was towed back into harbour for the problem to be identified.
Inspections by divers and engineers found the ship's 33-tonne starboard propeller - the weight of 30 Ford Fiesta cars - had malfunctioned, with a coupling that held it in place breaking.
The deployment comes after armed forces minister James Heaped suggested that a British aircraft carrier could be sent to the Red Sea amid the continuing threat by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
This would mean either the Queen Elizabeth or its sister ship, the Prince of Wales being sent to the region to replace the USS Dwight D Eisenhower when it returns to the US.