HMS Prince of Wales breaks down shortly after leaving Portsmouth

Divers have been inspecting the 65,000-tonne carrier below the waterline after damage was reported to the starboard propeller shaft, according to the Navy Lookout news site.

It was unclear on Sunday night whether the Prince of Wales would be forced to return to port to correct the issue.

The delayed voyage comes after the ship was stranded in Portsmouth in December 2020 when water poured into its engine room and damaged the electrics.

The vessel, which has a crew of 1,600, was banned from setting sail until an estimated £3.3million repairs were made.

She is due to deploy to North America for four months on what the Navy describes as “a landmark mission to shape the future of stealth jet and drone operations off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean”.

The vessel is expected to visit New York, Halifax in Canada, and the Caribbean, as part of exercises alongside US allies “operating F-35B jets and uncrewed systems which will define Royal Navy aviation of the future”.

Speaking ahead of the voyage, Commanding officer Captain Richard Hewitt said: “Taking the HMS Prince of Wales task group across the Atlantic for the rest of this year will not only push the boundaries of UK carrier operations, but will reinforce our close working relationship with our closest Ally.

“From operating the F35 Lightnings and drones to hosting the Atlantic Future Forum, none of this would be possible without the efforts of the amazing sailors on board, many of which are on their first deployment with the Royal Navy.”

The Prince of Wales had received a colourful send-off as it passed thousands of music-lovers at the Victorious music festival on Southsea Common in Portsmouth on Saturday.

Pop band the Sugababes were in the middle of their set when the giant ship sailed past.

The Prince of Wales is one of two aircraft carriers, alongside her sister vessel, HMS Queen Elizabeth, at the Navy’s disposal.

The Queen Elizabeth was commissioned in 2017 and the Prince of Wales in 2019.

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