Broken down £3bn warship HMS Prince of Wales to return to base with one propeller for repairs

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HMS Prince of Wales - the Navy warship that broke down off the Isle of Wight - will return to base today.

The £3bn aircraft carrier will leave Gosport's Stokes Bay at around 3.30pm on Saturday and is due to arrive back at Portsmouth Naval Base sometime after 5pm, officials said.

It will travel at slow speed using only one propeller, they added.

And once the warship arrives, it will remain in Portsmouth for further inspections before heading to a dry dock for repairs - most likely Rosyth in Scotland where it was built.

The NATO flagship was tugged to Stokes Bay after a coupling on one of the propeller shafts failed on 27 August.

It left Portsmouth that day for US diplomatic visits, which would have included flight trials with the F-35B Lightening jets.

The 65,000-tonne ship's departure had already been delayed due to a technical problem, but the decision was taken to sail regardless.

Navy officials announced on Friday that due to those technical difficulties, it would be replaced by HMS Queen Elizabeth on the trip to the US.

Its crew has been notified of their change of schedule, as they had been preparing for deployments to the Baltic and Mediterranean this autumn.

Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse, director of Force Generation, responsible for making sure Royal Navy ships are ready to deploy, said: "Royal Navy divers have inspected the starboard shaft of the shift and the adjacent areas, and they have confirmed there is significant damage to the shaft on the propeller and some superficial damage to the rudder, but no damage to the rest of the ship.

"Our initial assessment has shown that coupling that joins the final two sections of the shaft has failed.

"Now, this is an extremely unusual fault, and we continue to pursue all repair options."

Navy chiefs and the government are thought to be assessing which US commitments, including the Atlantic Future Forum in New York at the end of September, are essential for a carrier and which can be carried out by other ships from the same fleet.