Britain's biggest warship halted by mechanical issue shortly after leaving port

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FILE PHOTO: Britain's Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrives on HMS Prince of Wales at the Naval Base in Portsmouth

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Prince of Wales, has suffered a mechanical issue shortly after leaving southern England for what the Royal Navy described as a "landmark mission" off the coast of North America and in the Caribbean.

The 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier, which cost 3.1 billion pounds to build, left Portsmouth on Saturday for a three month exercise working closely with the United States on stealth jet and drone operations.

"HMS Prince of Wales remains in the South Coast Exercise Area while conducting investigations into an emerging mechanical issue," a Royal Navy spokesperson said in a statement.

The UK Defence Journal website reported the ship was anchored off the Isle of Wight and divers had been sent down to determine what was wrong, with concerns about damage to a propeller.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Christina Fincher)