£39m repair and maintenance bill for Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers in 2020

The Royal Navy has spent £39 million repairing and maintaining its two giant aircraft carriers in the past year.

The costs include repairs to HMS Prince of Wales after it suffered two leaks.

Jeremy Quin, minister for defence procurement, revealed the upkeep costs for the £3 billion warships following a parliamentary question by shadow minister for the armed forces Stephen Morgan.

The figures show that £18 million was spent on maintenance for HMS Queen Elizabeth, with £3.5 million for repairs and £2 million for engineering supervision.

HMS Queen Elizabeth
HMS Queen Elizabeth

The maintenance bill for the Prince of Wales was £11 million, with £2.5 million for repairs and £2 million for engineering supervision.

Mr Quin’s response states the maintenance included work to the flight deck coatings, with repairs including work to correct “operational defects”.

He added: “The costs of the repairs to HMS Prince of Wales as a result of the flooding incident in October 2020 will largely be accounted for in this calendar year.”

The Prince of Wales suffered its second leak in October which forced it to postpone a trip to the US to exercise with F35B Lightning jets and which has left it in base possibly until May, 2021.

A video also emerged in May 2020 of water pouring through the ceiling into an accommodation area onboard the Prince of Wales.

Sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth had to cut short sea trials in July 2019 after a seal burst causing a large quantity of water to pour from a pipe and to flood through several decks.

Following the incident, the Queen Elizabeth’s then commanding officer Captain Steve Moorhouse said it was safe and that in his experience leaks were a “weekly” problem for warships.

A Royal Navy spokeswoman said: “The aircraft carriers are hugely complex and investing in regular maintenance ensures they will protect the UK and its interests for decades to come.

“This year HMS Prince of Wales will conduct further trials and training, while HMS Queen Elizabeth sails on her inaugural operational deployment to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and east Asia region.”