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Britain’s flagship £3.5bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth pulled off major Nato drill due to mechanical fault

Britain’s flagship £3.5bn aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth pulled off major Nato drill due to mechanical fault

The UK’s £3.5 billion HMS Queen Elizabeth was stopped from taking part in a major Nato operation due to a mechanical fault.

The Royal Navy is now sending the recently repaired HMS Prince of Wales to join up with other nations’ vessels for a drill in Middle Eastern waters.

Nato is only completing a practice exercise this week but the military partners are prepared to set sail for Yemen should another cargo issue arise with the Houthi rebels.

HMS Queen Elizabeth came into service in 2020 but could now be docked for several months, the Mail has reported, while the issue is fixed on the aircraft carrier.

It was reported that engineers found a “significant issue with her starboard propeller shaft”.

The HMS Prince of Wales was launched in August 2022 at the Isle of Wight but was almost immediately dry docked to undergo repair work worth £25 million.

This aircraft carrier will now make the lengthy journey east after the British government signed off a proposal for it to join US warships in the Red Sea.

The UK has already engaged in a series of airstrikes on Houthi targets in cooperation with the US, while the warship HMS Diamond is also stationed in the Red Sea to protect shipping in the key trading route.

Armed forces minister James Heappey said that a British aircraft carrier could “plug a gap” in the future.

Referencing the nickname of the US carrier, he said: “There’s no real need for more carrier mass – for more carriers to be in the region than the Ike can provide. She’s a very capable ship.

“So our judgement was that with the Ike on station – the Eisenhower on station – and with jets available from Akrotiri, that we were able to meet the challenge as it is now.”

He indicated the Royal Navy could step in “when Eisenhower goes home, if we are needed to plug a gap in US deployments, or if the situation deteriorates and we need more”.