An Aircraft Carrier Named After Queen Elizabeth Has Sprung A Very Costly Leak

December 19, 2017, 5:16 PM UTC
HMS Queen Elizabeth Departs Portsmouth Dockyard For Sea Trials
PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: The Royal Navy's newest aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth departs Portmouth dockyard on October 30, 2017 in Portsmouth, England. Crowds of people gathered along the seafront to see the Royal Navy's £3 billion flagship aircraft carrier depart its home port for the first time for the second set of month long sea trials. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Matt Cardy—Getty Images

The largest ship Britain has ever built has a leak.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first in a new class of aircraft carriers which took 3.1 billion pounds ($4.2 billion) and eight years to construct, has a faulty seal around one of its propellers.

This leak, which was discovered during sea trials, is not a serious — i.e. sinking — problem, but could be costly to repair. The faulty seal allows 200 liters of water (about the amount it takes to fill a standard bathtub) into the hull every hour that then has to be pumped back out of the 64,000 tonne craft.

The defect does not prevent the craft from sailing and will not affect further sea trials, according to a Royal Navy spokesman.

The Navy likely knew about the leak earlier, but held off on announcing repairs until after a visit from the Queen of England on December 7 to commission the vessel.

A picture shows the commissioning cake with figures and scenes on it made by David Duncan for the Commissioning Ceremony to be attended by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Britain’s Princess Anne, Princess Royal, to official commission the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth at HM Naval Base in Portsmouth, southern England on December 7, 2017. Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, attended the Commissioning Ceremony of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest warship ever built for the Royal Navy. Following the traditions of the Royal Navy, during the course of the ceremony the commissioning cake will be cut by the Captain’s wife and the youngest member of the Ship’s Company.Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty Images
Chris Jackson—AFP/Getty Images

The HMS Queen Elizabeth was built by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a grouping of British engineering companies BAE Systems and Babcock along with the United Kingdom division of the French Thales.

“This will be completed prior to the nation’s flagship re-commencing her program at sea in 2018,” BAE Systems said in a statement.

The cost of the repairs will be covered by the contractors who built the craft, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said.

“This is the reason why we have the sea trials,” he said, “to make sure that everything is working absolutely perfectly. This is something that work is currently ongoing to deal with.”