Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to port after on board leak

Britain's biggest and most powerful warship ever built has returned to port early after an on board leak, the Ministry of Defence said.

HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth Naval Base last month to embark on five weeks of sea trials and training before setting sail again to the US later this summer.

But the £3.1 billion aircraft carrier, which had been due to return to the Hampshire city later this week for a planned maintenance period, was forced to cut short the latest trials.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defence said: "Following a minor issue with an internal system on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the ship's company were required to remove a small volume of water from the ship.

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"An investigation into the cause is under way."

It is understood there was no damage or breach to the hull, with the situation caused by water which leaked into and was then contained in an internal compartment.

With the problem dealt with and isolated quickly, the water was pumped out and the vessel returned to Portsmouth as a precautionary measure following the incident on Tuesday.

This latest problem follows 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.