7 pictures as HMS Prince of Wales' Portsmouth departure mysteriously aborted

Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales' departure from Portsmouth today (Sunday) was mysteriously called off at the last minute .

The ship was due to leave Portsmouth Harbour at 12.15pm on Sunday, with families and well-wishers flocking to Old Portsmouth to watch her departure. But confusion reigned as mixed messages were relayed among the excited crowd over whether the ship would be leaving as planned, before it was reported the departure was now set to happen on Monday at 1pm, though this has not been confirmed by the Royal Navy.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) police boats had secured the area and the harbour mouth was closed to traffic – the normal protocol for the departure of a carrier – before the channel was reopened and HMS Prince of Wales failed to leave the jetty. It is unclear if the sailing was cancelled before the carrier was set to leave or whether it had made its first movements from the jetty at Portsmouth Naval Base.

One member of the public who had come to wave off the carrier said: “I hope it hasn’t broken down again.” After about 20 minutes, the hundreds of people gathered to see the ship started to disperse as word spread that it was not leaving. The MoD has been approached for clarification on the warship’s departure plans.

It comes as HMS Queen Elizabeth had been expected to depart from Portsmouth Naval Base last Sunday to lead the largest Nato exercise since the Cold War, involving more than 40 vessels. But she was forced to cancel because of an “issue” with a propeller shaft. HMS Prince of Wales had been due to step in to cover for her sister ship.

Here’s pictures of the scene at the non-show of HMS Prince of Wales.