HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth early after reports of a leak

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HMS Queen Elizabeth has returned to Portsmouth early after reports of a leak.

The £3.1bn aircraft carrier left the city for sea trials on June 17 and was allegedly due to return in a few days. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth arriving at Portsmouth Harbour earlier this year. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

HMS Queen Elizabeth arriving at Portsmouth Harbour earlier this year. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

But it sailed back tonight, hours after journalists were told an on board media call was cancelled because of a fault. 

Writers from the Plymouth Herald and other publications were due to meet at 1pm for the event but received a text at 11am calling it off. 

They received an email shortly after 7pm saying there had been a ‘minor issue with an internal system’ on HMS Queen Elizabeth. 

The message, published by the Herald, said: ‘I understand the disappointment following the cancellation of the media facility on board HMS Queen Elizabeth earlier today and apologise for any inconvenience to your organisation.  

‘Please see the Royal Navy’s issued statement following the ship’s early return to Portsmouth.    

‘Following a minor issue with an internal system on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the ship’s company were required to remove a small volume of water from the ship. 

‘HMS Queen Elizabeth has had a minor issue relating to water from an internal system.  At no point was there damage or breach to the hull.  

‘The issue was isolated as soon as possible and all water has now been pumped out.

‘The ship, which was due to return to Portsmouth for a planned maintenance period later in the week, is now returning earlier than planned.

‘This is a precautionary measure. The cause of the issue is now under investigation.’ 

HMS Queen Elizabeth stopped in Devon at the end of June.

As part of her latest sea trials, she had been testing her new Phalanx closed-in weapons system, which comprises rapid-fire radar and electro-optical guided guns. 

The ship's previous sea trials saw her sail to the United States for two months of testing with F-35 Lightning stealth fighter jets. 

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s commanding officer at the time, Captain Nick Cooke-Priest, said those trials had ‘eclipsed expectations’ and set modern milestones for the Royal Navy. 

He was later replaced at the helm by Captain Steve Moorhouse after a spat over misuse of the ship's official car, a Ford Galaxy.