In October, one of the Royal Navy’s carriers, HMS Prince of Wales suffered a significant flood in its engine room. The damage to the engine spaces left equipment and electronic components aboard the brand new aircraft carrier submerged for more than 24 hours before it could be pumped out.
At the time images and video of the flood appeared online. The videos showed water pouring from a ceiling into a mess space while another showed the engine room badly flooded.
The new British carrier cost £3.1bn (or $4.2bn) and was launched in December 2017, and was commissioned two years later in December 2019. The flooding occurred while Prince of Wales was alongside at Portsmouth Naval Base, UK media outlets reported that a burst fire main was the cause of the flood – the Royal Navy have not confirmed this. The vessel has previously suffered a pipe leak in May 2020, reportedly causing an ankle-height flood.
The class-leader, HMS Queen Elizabeth, also suffered a serious leak in July 2019, when 200 tonnes of water flooded several decks after a high-pressure salt water pipe burst. Forces News reported that the high-pressure pipe burst buckled a stairwell, bent bulkheads and split some deck-plates.
Despite the flood and the expensive repairs Prince of Wales is expected to return to sea in May 2021. Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin confirmed the costs of the repairs in response to a written Parliamentary question. Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, was informed that: “the estimated incremental cost of the repair work is £3.3 million,” and that “remedial work being conducted on both Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers to help prevent a repetition of this event is expected to cost £2.2 million.”
Following the repairs HMS Prince of Wales is due to return to service in May 2021, “to commence preparations for her next planned operational tasking,” according to Armed Forces Minister James Heappey.