Royal Navy: HMS Prince of Wales finally leaves Portsmouth for North Sea Nato mission after initial delay

HMS Prince of Wales has finally set sail from Portsmouth after her initial departure was delayed.
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The £3.2bn warship departed from HMNB Portsmouth this afternoon, with well-wishers gathering in Old Portsmouth at The Round Tower to watch her leave. She was originally due to set sail on Sunday, but this was postponed.

HMS Prince of Wales leaving Portsmouth for a Nato Mission in the North Sea near Norway on February 12, 2024. Picture: Sam Stephenson.HMS Prince of Wales leaving Portsmouth for a Nato Mission in the North Sea near Norway on February 12, 2024. Picture: Sam Stephenson.
HMS Prince of Wales leaving Portsmouth for a Nato Mission in the North Sea near Norway on February 12, 2024. Picture: Sam Stephenson.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman confirmed the ship would set off, but did not give a reason for the delay. As previously reported in The News, he said: "The aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is due to sail from Portsmouth soon, subject to suitable tide and weather conditions."

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The 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier is leading the UK Carrier Strike Group on Exercise Steadfast Defender in the North Sea near Norway. It is Nato's largest exercise since the Cold War, involving more than 40 vessels and allies from different nations.

HMS Queen Elizabeth was originally prepared to front the force weeks ago, but a mechanical fault found during "pre-sailing" checks scuppered those plans. An investigation into that fault is ongoing. A Royal Navy spokesman said: "On completion of initial investigations, HMS Queen Elizabeth will sail for Rosyth in Scotland so any necessary repairs can be carried out in due course. The cause of the issue with HMS Queen Elizabeth is wear and tear of her starboard propeller shaft coupling.”