(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRITISH NEWS PAPER ‘THE SUN’)
THE Royal Navy’s new £3.1billion aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has a leak so serious it may need to go back into dry dock — for repairs that will cost millions.
A faulty seal around one of the vast warship’s propeller shafts means 200 litres of sea water pour in every hour.
Insiders said there is a “significant” defect with the stern seal, an inflatable rubber ring that fits around one of the propeller shafts.
The problem was spotted during sea trials.
Top Brass are furious because the carrier, the UK’s largest ever warship, had the fault when it was delivered by ship building partnership the Aircraft Carrier Alliance.
That means the manufacturers will have to pay for the repairs, not the Ministry of Defence.
But the Navy is now concerned about future repairs which would have to be funded by the taxpayer.
An insider added: “We’re about to uncover the true cost of carrier operations.
“There is a feeling that the ACA mugged us off by not sorting this before the handover.”
The Queen Elizabeth is currently in Portsmouth and may need to go back into dry dock to be fixed.
The insider said: “She has a leaky stern seal and may need to be docked down to fix it up in Rosyth.
“The seal sits at the point where the shaft leaves the ship.
“It’s pretty important for keeping the water out. It’s leaking at approximately 200 litres an hour which is pretty significant.”
An investigation is under way to discover if sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, which is yet to start sea trials, has the same problem.
Despite the fault, the carrier will still go on further sea trials early next year.
At present internal pumps are clearing the sea water and sources say the leak will be fixed by the time it sets sail again.
Sources also say the defective part is not a design fault — like the issue which plagued the fleet of £1billion Type 45 Destroyers.
They have a fault which causes them to break down in hot weather.
The 65,000-ton, 932ft carrier, which has a crew of 700, was formally welcomed into the fleet by the Queen two weeks ago.
Her Majesty was guest of honour at the ship’s commissioning in Portsmouth.
The Queen said of the carrier: “She will in the years and decades ahead represent the country’s resolve on the global stage.”
The Royal Navy confirmed yesterday: “An issue with a shaft seal has been identified during HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sea trials.
“This is scheduled for repair while she is alongside at Portsmouth.
“It does not prevent her from sailing again and her sea trials programme will not be affected.”
A spokesman for ACA said: “HMS Queen Elizabeth has been accepted into Her Majesty’s fleet.
“It is normal practice for a volume of work and defect resolution to continue following vessel acceptance.
“This will be completed prior to the nation’s flagship re-commencing her programme at sea in 2018.”