The UK’s £3.2billion HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier is acting as a “scrap yard” after reports suggest crucial equipment is being removed from the stricken warship. The move raises concerns about the carrier’s future which has been in dry dock since August 2022, following a breakdown off the coast of Portsmouth. The navy is now “cannibalising” the carrier by stripping essential equipment, rendering it unusable for a longer time.
Lift chains, electrical systems, and sections of the ship’s gas turbines have been removed and without these parts, the carrier cannot function fully.
They are being installed as replacements for ageing or faulty parts on its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth.
HMS Prince of Wales suffered a breakdown due to issues with its starboard propeller, which is being replaced as part of a £25million refit. The cost has increased by £5million in the past month.
The Mail on Sunday reported that the warship’s port propeller also needs to be replaced as it is experiencing the same issues. The ship was launched in 2017 and is expected to spend at least a year in dock due to the additional workload.
The Navy is also spending millions on replacement fuel pumps for both carriers.
According to insiders, the Navy is taking good parts from HMS Prince of Wales to support HMS Queen Elizabeth, as it remains in operation.
A navy source told the Mail: “It is one disaster after another. To lose both propellers so soon into her lifespan is ridiculous.
“As she’s out of action, inevitably her good parts are being stripped off to support HMS Queen Elizabeth.
“HMS Prince of Wales is being mothballed, unofficially at least.”
The decision to build two carriers at a cost of £6billion before a single fighter jet was purchased is being questioned inside the cash-strapped Ministry of Defence.
An inquiry into issues suffered by the HMS Prince of Wales uncovered evidence that the second carrier was rushed into service to serve a political agenda.
Despite these concerns, the Royal Navy remains committed to ensuring that HMS Prince of Wales begins its operational programme in August 2023.
The Navy said: “It is not unusual for equipment to be transferred between ships to ensure operational availability and to avoid delays.”