HMS Queen Elizabeth captain Nick Cooke-Priest has been sacked for misusing the Royal Navy aircraft carrier’s official car, it has been reported.
The Sun said it is believed he was found to have driven the Portsmouth-based vessel’s Ford Galaxy on weekends, contravening rules that state the vehicle is for official use only.
Capt Cooke-Priest, who joined the Royal Navy in 1990, had only been in command of the 280-metre, 65,000-tonne ship since last October – taking over from Jerry Kyd while the warship was in New York on its Westlant 18 deployment.
The operation saw HMS Queen Elizabeth undergo her maiden F-35 Lightning flight trials.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: ‘We can confirm Captain Nick Cooke-Priest has been reassigned to a new role.
‘We can only say that management action is ongoing and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further.’
The Sun reported Capt Cooke-Priest was never warned that using the Ford Galaxy for personal journeys was in breach of rules.
Remaining anonymous, a former officer told the paper: ‘Nick adores the navy and has lost his career by doing what captains have done for decades – using the company car to get home. An innocent mistake has cost the navy one of its best.’
It is understood major Royal Navy warships and their captains are loaned a car for use on official duties.
An investigation allegedly found Capt Cooke-Priest had used HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Ford Galaxy as if it was his own, and found him guilty of an ‘error of judgment’, according to The Sun.
He paid for the petrol and there is no allegation of fraud.
Capt Cooke-Priest specialised as a Lynx helicopter observer after joining the Royal Navy.
A decade of flying appointments followed, primarily at sea, and included an instructional tour and as Flight Commander of HMS Exeter.
He was promoted to Commander in 2009 and that year in HMS Kent escorted Her Majesty the Queen during a royal tour.
On HMS Iron Duke, he was deployed to the Arabian Gulf and in 2011 to Libya as part of Operation Ellamy.
In January 2015, he also assumed command of HMS Bulwark and led the UK's contribution to the Gallipoli centenary commemorations.
In October 2018, Capt Cooke-Priest, a married father of three sons, took over HMS Queen Elizabeth from Capt Kid, who had been the ship’s first commanding officer.
Since then the £3.1bn behemoth has returned to Portsmouth having conquered her initial F-35 Lightning flight trials, before sailing to Rosyth, Scotland, for maintenance last month.
It was there she was pictured just metres away from her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, which is currently under construction.
It was announced in January Commodore Stephen Moorhouse will be in charge of her when she goes to sea.
After being appointed last year, Capt Cooke-Priest tweeted: ‘It’s an immense honour to have taken command of HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and week one has been fabulous!
‘Much brilliant trials work done, many new challenges ahead. Thrilled to be leading the QE team as we re-generate our sovereign Carrier Strike capability.'
He was awarded an OBE in 2016.