HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s latest aircraft carrier, which was recently inaugurated, is facing a leak and is undergoing repairs. The ship was commissioned by Royal Navy less than 2 weeks ago. Reports are that the ship is taking on water through its propulsion system. Royal Navy says that it’s a minor issue and does not affect the ship’s ability to go into the sea. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the first of a new generation of aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy. This 932 feet long and 70,000 tons fully loaded “Big Lizzie” is the largest warship ever built in the United Kingdom.
Queen Elizabeth and its sister ship, Prince of Wales, will carry up to 36 vertical F-35B Joint Strike Fighters. The two ships together will constitute a major portion of the UK’s long-range striking power. According to BBC, the leak is coming from the carrier’s two propeller shafts and is flowing at a rate of 200 liters per hour. That’s about a gallon of water entering the craft per minute. The spread of seawater inside a warship could easily lead to saltwater rust and corrosion. That has been said, the leak is relatively minor and the ship’s onboard pumping system can handle it. The Royal Navy gave a statement saying that the issue “does not prevent her from sailing again, and her sea trails programme will not be affected.”
According to The Daily Mail, divers have been sighted around Queen Elizabeth, leading to speculation repairs have already begun. UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the fix won’t cost UK taxpayers and will be shouldered by the consortium of defense contractors that built the ship. As the first of a two-ship class, Queen Elizabeth is naturally going to have problems, the leaks are not surprising at all.
The US Navy is having problems with a new ship of their own as well. The USS Zumwalt guided missile destroyer and Littoral Combat Ships have demonstrated. Earlier this year, USS Zumwalt broke down in the Panama Canal, losing propulsion and bumping into the canal walls.
Queen Elizabeth was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 7th December 2017. The Royal Navy is sending it to the east coast of the USA in fall 2018. It was supposed to begin flight testing with F-35B fighters, and its first operational patrol with all the loaded aircrafts will be taking place in 2021.