The UK's $3.5 billion aircraft carrier breaks down on day 2 of its US mission

In the past two years, it has only been at sea for 90 days.
Ameya Paleja
HMS PoW 1920.png
Britain's newest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has sailed from Rosyth Dockyard for the very first time since 2019

Ministry of Defense, UK 

The Royal Navy's largest aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, has broken down near its base of Portsmouth – on day two of its mission to the U.S., Business Insider reported.

The centerpiece of modern combat fleets, an aircraft carrier is a warship that is equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for deploying and recovering aircraft at sea. Since the carrier sails in international waters, it does not interfere with the sovereignty of nations, while also serving as an airbase for staging aerial operations, when required, with rapid response times.

Only 14 navies across the world currently operate aircraft carriers with a total of 47 carriers currently in active use. The U.S. Navy operates 11 of these aircraft carriers, each capable of carrying up to 80 aircraft. We have previously covered, the different classes of aircraft carriers that the U.S. has deployed in its naval history. In comparison, the Royal Navy has only two aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

HMS Prince of Wales

The HMS Prince of Wales is the Royal Navy's second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier and its construction began in 2011. Over a period of eight years, budget cuts threatened the ship from being rolled out to sea. Eventually, the warship was completed at a cost of three billion pounds (US$ 3.52 billion) and handed over to the Royal Navy in 2019.

The 65,000 tonne- (71,650 U.S. tons) warship's base is near Portsmouth on the southern coast of the U.K. Unlike other aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales is not equipped with catapults or arrestor wires and is, therefore, a base for F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters, which have short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) capabilities.

Problems with the UK's largest warship

Shortly after its commissioning, the warship got stranded near Portsmouth in 2020, after its engine room was flooded and its electrics damaged. Another leakage incident meant that the warship, designated as NATO's flagship carrier earlier this year, spent less than 90 days at sea during its first two years of service.

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On Sunday, the warship left its Portsmouth base as part of its four-month deployment to the U.S. During this time, the warship was expected to cross the Atlantic and stop at Halifax, Canada, while also making stoppages in New York and in the Caribbean. Its 1,600-strong crew is scheduled to train alongside the U.S. military, as well as the Royal Canadian Navy, in programs that will utilize the F-35 jets and unmanned systems, The Guardian reported.

However, on the second day of its deployment, the warship remained in the South Coast Exercise Area near its Portsmouth base, and divers have been deployed to inspect the technical fault with the ship. Navy Lookout, an independent news site, suggests the warship is likely to have a damaged propeller.

A spokesperson for the Royal Navy stated that HMS Prince of Wales is "receiving external support for ongoing investigations" and is expected to continue on its deployment in the coming days.

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