Delay to warship departure for Nato exercise 'not acceptable', says minister
12.02.2024 - 13:18
Security minister Tom Tugendhat said it is "not acceptable" that Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is sitting in dock when it should be out "defending our interests abroad".
The £3 billion warship was due to replace its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the largest Nato exercise since the Cold War. However, an "issue" with the starboard propeller coupling was detected during final checks.
Since then, the crew and base workers have been getting HMS Prince of Wales ready to take over HMS Queen Elizabeth's role in Exercise Steadfast Defender off Norway.
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When asked about the situation, Mr Tugendhat told LBC: "I'm afraid it's not something I can explain that's a matter for the MoD (Ministry of Defence), and I'm going to have to ask some questions about it."
He added: "But I'm sure the First Sea Lord is looking at this right now. Admiral (Sir Ben) Key has commanded an aircraft carrier in the past and will no doubt be all over the details of this and making sure they set sail as soon as possible."
"It isn't acceptable that we have such expensive and important items of kit sitting in dock when they should be out defending our interests abroad."
An MoD spokesman confirmed the delay of HMS Prince of Wales's departure but didn't provide a reason for the sudden change. He said: "The aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is due to sail from Portsmouth soon, subject to suitable tide and weather conditions." The ship is now expected to set sail on Monday, February 12.
Mr Tugendhat dismissed the idea that the warship can only sail on a sunny day with favourable tides. Speaking to LBC, he said: "That is absolutely not correct." He added: "Our
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