HMS Prince of Wales: Who will pay for warship's £20m repairs and when will she be back in Portsmouth

Disagreements could soon be sparked over who pays for repairs being made to a stricken Royal Navy warship.
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HMS Prince of Wales is currently sat at a dry dock in Scotland, after breaking down off the coast of the Isle of Wight last year. The carrier, which is the sister ship of HMS Queen Elizabeth, had a fault with the starboard propeller that has put it out of action until further notice.

In Rosyth, it was discovered that the coupling holding the propeller in place had malfunctioned – an issue that had been identified when the warship was doing sea trials in 2019.

HMS Prince Of Wales preparing to enter Rosyth dock for repairs on October 11, 2022. Picture: Lisa FergusonHMS Prince Of Wales preparing to enter Rosyth dock for repairs on October 11, 2022. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
HMS Prince Of Wales preparing to enter Rosyth dock for repairs on October 11, 2022. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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The Sunday Times and UK Defence Journal have reported that the repairs will cost around £20m, but now the question remains over who will pay for the repairs. While the warship is part of the Royal Navy’s fleet, BAE Systems was a key partner in its construction, having a major role in the design, building and subsequent support of both QE-class carriers.

The News understands that while the final cost of repairs and responsibility for payment has not yet been finalised, the Royal Navy is optimistic that BAE Systems might pay for the work. However, no formal discussions are believed to have taken place at this time.

A spokeswoman for the Royal Navy said: ‘We remain committed to ensuring HMS Prince of Wales commences her operational programme, as planned, in Autumn 2023. This will include operational flying training and trials.

‘Our focus has been on achieving an expedient repair, including pre-emptive work on the port shaft, whilst maximising opportunities for capability upgrades to ensure HMS Prince of Wales is prepared to become the very high readiness strike carrier in 2024.’

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The issue on board HMS Prince of Wales is not thought to be class-wide, so HMS Queen Elizabeth should be unaffected.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) investigation into the fault is ongoing, in a bid to establish the cause of the failure, ensure remedial activity is included in the repair plan and to make recommendations to reduce the likelihood of this fault happening again.

BAE Systems has declined to comment while the investigation is taking place.