The commanding officer of the HMS Queen Elizabeth has said that leaks are a “weekly” problem for warships, after the carrier suffered water pouring through several decks.
Captain Steve Moorhouse insisted that the Royal Navy’s £3 billion warship was safe and ready for deployment to the USA.
The 65,000-tonne warship was forced to cut short sea trials and return to its home port of Portsmouth Naval Base in July after a seal burst causing a large quantity of water to pour from a pipe.
The leak followed a number of other issues including a shaft seal leak which caused water to pour into the ship, and the accidental trigger of the sprinklers in the hangar.
Meanwhile the former commanding officer, Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest, resigned after he was removed from post for misuse of an official car.
Capt Moorhouse said: “This is the sixth ship I have been the captain of, it’s been a huge privilege for me in the Royal Navy, and I reckon the average is a flood a week in every ship I have been captain of.
“You shouldn’t be surprised about that, you buy a new house or new car, bits and bobs of this ship were put together six/seven years ago, and the fact that a seal leaks and the amount of water you get on a ship like this is more than you get on a P2000.
“The design is absolutely world class but it’s inevitable that seals and valves can fail if you haven’t run systems for years, it’s not a surprise.
“Floods are part of the business, the really reassuring thing is that my sailors responded exactly as you would want them to, so all done and dusted, we are ready to sail.”
He added that it was “ironic that at the time we were going through a period of sea training where we had an organisation on board that simulates floods and fires so we ran our own for them.”
He said the cost of the leak was limited to surveying and replacing lagging.
Commodore Mike Utley, commander of the UK Maritime Strike Group, said: “We have surveyed across this ship and the (sister ship) Prince of Wales and we are completely content that we are good to go, so these ships are safe to operate.
“I’m surrounded by professional sailors and there is no way any of us would take an unsafe ship to sea, this ship is absolutely spot-on.
“You get problems, exactly the same as you get in your house, we had a problem in this ship with a pipe, the pipe leaked, we fixed the leak, we will move on, that’s it.”
Cmdre Utley said he could not comment on Cmdre Cooke-Priest’s departure and said: “It’s an issue between the service and the individual.”
Capt Moorhouse said: “Morale is fantastic, when commanding officers move on, it’s a routine business for sailors and they are used to that. Understandably it was short notice for them but they just wanted to crack on and that’s the nature of military personnel.
“With over 65% of the crew under 25 they are excited to go to America and that is where their focus is.”