HMS Queen Elizabeth: Britain’s biggest warship returns to port early after suffering a leak

File photo dated 18/3/2018 of HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving Portsmouth Harbour. In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the carrier, embarked with UK and US F-35 jets, will be deployed on her first operational mission to the Mediterranean, the Middle East and the Pacific region - where Beijing has been involved in a dispute over navigation rights and territorial claims in the South China Sea.
HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth Naval Base last month to embark on five weeks of sea trials (PA)

Britain’s biggest and most powerful warship has been forced to return to port early after it suffered an on board leak.

HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth Naval Base last month to embark on five weeks of sea trials and training before setting sail again to the US later this summer.

A Chinook takes off from HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The aircraft carrier is Britain's biggest and most powerful warship ever (PA)

However, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that the £3.1 billion aircraft carrier, which had been due to return to the Hampshire city later this week for a planned maintenance period, was forced to cut short the latest trials.

A spokeswoman said: "Following a minor issue with an internal system on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the ship's company were required to remove a small volume of water from the ship.

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"An investigation into the cause is under way.”

It is understood there was no damage or breach to the hull, with the situation caused by water which leaked into and was then contained in an internal compartment.

People watch as the 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK's newest aircraft carrier, departs from Portsmouth Naval Base, the carrier is due to spend a month at sea around the south-west of the United Kingdom testing out its radar, communications and other technical equipment.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth has returned to port after suffering a leak (PA)

With the problem dealt with and isolated quickly, the water was pumped out and the vessel returned to Portsmouth as a precautionary measure following the incident on Tuesday.

This latest problem follows a number of other issues including a shaft seal leak which caused water to pour into the ship, and the accidental trigger of the sprinklers in the hangar.

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