Rectification work on HMS Queen Elizabeth will not cost the taxpayer a penny, the Defence Secretary has insisted.
BAE Systems said the repair would take a few days. They’re quoted as saying:
“It is normal practice for a volume of work and defect resolution to continue following vessel acceptance. This will be completed prior to the nation’s flagship recommencing her programme at sea in 2018.”
Pressed on suggestions that repairs could cost millions, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said that the cost would be met by contractors: “This isn’t going to cost the British taxpayer a penny.”
Issues like this occur often on vessels of all types, especially during a phase of their life designed to identify and rectify faults. This is not a serious concern.
While some argue that this is a major issue it should be noted that the Royal Navy themselves seem confident that it will not impact the schedule of the vessel. This would appear to suggest they’re not too concerned. We spoke to someone serving on board the vessel via e-mail today, he told us under the condition of anonymity:
“We’re bemused, nothing more nothing less. This so called issue isn’t a new thing and it’s not what I would call serious. It’s getting fixed shortly. Most of us on board don’t care or don’t know about it it’s such a trivial matter. We’re not ‘sinking’ and we’re not ‘leaking’ anymore than any vessel would be. It’s disappointing to see how easily this has been blown out of proportion.”
It was reported this morning that internal pumps are clearing the water and the leak will be fixed before the carrier sails again, again nothing to be concerned about is happening on board the carrier.
It should also be noted that the Royal Navy accepted the vessel from the ACA off-contract and was aware of the shaft issue. The taxpayer will not be paying for the fix either.
A Royal Navy spokesman said:
“An issue with a shaft seal has been identified during HMS Queen Elizabeth’s sea trials; this is scheduled for repair while she is alongside at Portsmouth. It does not prevent her from sailing again and her sea trials programme will not be affected.”
“A faulty seal around one of the vast warship’s propeller shafts means 200 litres of sea water pour in every hour.”
A typical bilge pump even on a narrow boat, by the way, can handle over 1000 litres per hour.
Admiral Chris Parry told Sky News the leak was a non-issue:
“Every ship, to tell you the truth, takes on water that’s why you have pumps. What people have to realise is the whole reason for sea trials is that you race and rally the ship, you stress it right to its extremes, and you’re really looking for faults like this to see what happens.
You get this all the time, you’ve got very complicated engineering under the water, it’s operating obviously at sea and every yachtsman will tell you they take in water somewhere, that’s what you’ve got pumps for, that’s why you have dedicated engineers, it really is no big deal I have to tell you.”
The ThinPinstripedLine response to the story about the ‘leak’ can be found here and summarises today’s events very well.
“The issue affecting QUEEN ELIZABETH seems extremely minor, easily fixable and not remotely in the same league of problems that other ships have had. It is a testament to the quality of British shipbuilding skill, and the strength of the CVF design that she has come through trials with only very minor problems.
The battle for the Royal Navy though is pushing this narrative against a media determined to make a minor technical problem into a major PR disaster for the Navy. In the public mindset the front page news today will help set the narrative for the ships early life, regardless of how utterly untrue it is.
Part of this stems from a lack of understanding on the purpose of sea trials, or that faults will occur, but that they are easily fixable. It also stems from the problem that as papers have scrapped their specialist journalists, the days when deep experts like Desmond Wettern could be relied on to provide deep knowledge and understanding, spotting when an issue was a non-event, or equally when what the RN wanted to make out was a non-event was actually a scoop are long gone.”
The shaft seal issue was identified during trials and seemingly was not deemed serious enough to delay subsequent activities. While obviously this is an issue, it’s not a major issue as the 200 litres an hour will easily be handled by the ships pumps until the issue is resolved, which it will be before she sails. To put it in perspective, that’s around two bath tubs of water.