HMS Queen Elizabeth is reportedly taking on seawater because of a fault with one of the seals around its propeller shafts.

The fault was first identified during sea trials. However a spokesperson said the ship is scheduled for repairs and the fault will not prevent her from sailing again early in the new year.

 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.”

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.”

The Sun says that HMS Queen Elizabeth has been taking on up to 200 litres of sea water every hour.

“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.”

Headlines like this are the problem, not an issue with a seal.

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.

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Geoffrey Roach

Don’t panic. It’l be fixed.


Leaks in prop shaft seals are hardly uncommon. From the reporting this would only seem to be news in the eyes of journalists who know nothing about ships or sea trials (as the UKDJ article here points out, this is wha5 sea trials are about.

In other shocking revelations today, it has been discovered that the pope really is a catholic. Bear shit has also been discovered in woodlands inhabited by bears, the search for an explanation is ongoing.


A world of advice to people here with blood pressure issues – don’t look at the Sun’s front page headline on this in today’s issue. I only saw the BBC News website’s roundup of the newspaper headlines so just a photo of the front page but judging by the headline the article is probably all uninformed and potentially incorrect hysteria.

I really, really, really (really) hate the tabloid newspapers.


It’s not just tabloids; the so-called qualities are no better. It has to be remembered that the point of newspapers is not to present news in a balanced, accurate manner. It is to SELL newspapers and make you click on links, and they do that by hysteria and sensation, making every small issue into a major crisis. Journalism in this country is at an all-time low, and there is only one way it is heading, and it isn’t up. I never read them, for I do not trust what they say.


Understand the sentiment Julian, but if untoward / inaccurate media attention keeps the short changing the Armed Forces receive in the public’s eye, it also keeps the up the pressure to prevent more sneaky cuts from the MoD slipping through.

On this occasion , I regard it as a necessary evil. If everything that happens gets smoothly rationalised away (as it does on here, see yesterdays article on Harpoon and the comments about it only being a software update) , it will allow the bean counters to consider more cuts.


That’s where you and I might have differing views of what’s in the best interests of the armed forces. My concern is that bad news stories might not be a case of all publicity is good publicity and keep them protected because they are in the public eye but rather that some of the public, fed with such stupid misinformation, starts thinking “they’re a joke, they are squandering our money and their budget should be cut”. I hesitate slightly to use this example because I realise that views on Brexit are polarised but an analogy that I see is all… Read more »

John West

Wow – 3 litres a minute. Panic stations! My bath leaks more than that. How does this become a major news story?


I suspect because some journalist who knows nothing about ships hears something, is under pressure to come up with a “big story”, passes it by their editor who also knows nothing about the subject, and all of a sudden it’s on the front page. Other journalists then plagiarise it and all of a sudden it’s everywhere and the British public is getting totally misinformed about what should be a good news story (QEC workup seemingly going well).

Did I mention that I hate the tabloids?


‘Did I mention that I hate the tabloids?’

Don’t we all.


Taking on water?…pmsl
What a joke
Have any of these journalists been on a boat…or even near one?..


Exactly! Bloody journalists can’t resist hitting below the belt, with friends like them who need enemies?


I seem to recall that the TV series made by Discovery Channel that showcased what turned out to be Ark Royal’s last commission in 09/10 showed her having to be dry docked for several days because of a leak down on the bowels of the ship. Shows how newsworthy such incidents are. Saying that though, seeing stories like this makes it all the harder for the actual story to be heard – there are many people licking their lips at the prospect of this project failing, and in this era of fake news, the truth struggles over the din of… Read more »


In other News The Navy found a minor fault during sea trials, Good that’s what sea trials are for…

I just wish murdoch & his chums would sod foo for good..


Never mind the Sun…it’s the lead story on the BBC news website too.

Agree with Phillip above. Def a negative agenda for many when it comes to these ships.
Balanced media coverage is a myth these days.


Actually if you read the BBC online article it is not unbalanced and nor is it particularly negative. None of us want the MoD to be given an easy ride here. It’s an issue, it will be fixed. the media will report it, rightly. Some other news organisations will go overboard (sorry, pun intended) but generally the Beeb does a pretty good job. I would rather live in a country where the BBC and others report on things like this. And yes, as others have said, it’s a slow news day. The news cycle will move on.


Balanced by the end of the article…
The title and inference are anything but.


@AV Of course it’s balanced. Here’s the website headline “HMS Queen Elizabeth: Leak found on new aircraft carrier”
Pretty factual.
And it is fast-disappearing down the news index for the very good reason that it is a small story – just one that’s affecting our biggest warship.


Disagree entirely…
‘Leak on ship’ and the general public will read it as it’s sinking.
‘Minor teething problem’ as per every other boat ever sailed is factual.

Lee H

Slow news day that’s all. Wouldn’t be surprised if MoD had actually leaked the story (no pun intended). Minor fault is responsibility of ACA.
It keeps the MoD in the news, diverts away from the real failings of the MoD in their Year of the Royal Navy.

As an aside though, my insurance company gives me a courtesy car whilst they fix mine. I take it the MoD are not with Admiral insurance?


LOL. The courtesy car isn’t always of the same standard as the car being repaired though. ACA are probably negotiating the rental of a Hoseasons’ broads cruiser for a temporary replacement as we speak – lucky for them it’s off season on the Norfolk Broads.


This is what journalism has become. Blow up every small issue that wouldn’t have gotten a mention in the past into a major crisis to make you buy that day’s paper or click that link. Tomorrow, find something else to blow up…and the cycle goes on. I don’t know why anyone wastes their money on newspapers.


This being what sea trials are for.


That’s what trials are for.

Better it be found now than a couple of years form now when on operations


Journalists drink spirits faster than that !!!! Morons !!

Daniele Mandelli

Came on here expecting the worst from some of the more defeatist posters so very refreshing to see people seeing this for what it is. Moving on.

Mr Bell

I have heard of submarines that take on more water than that. Easily coped with by pumps until seal replaced. Panic not. At least the ships should not need dry docking like the new Australian Canbera class and their azimuth drive pods.
That was a much more significant issue.
the highest threat to the success of the QE programme would be to not order in enough F35Bs. We need another 48+ jets ordered to really deliver the potential of these hugely impressive ships..oh and also an air defence missile fit would be great….but I have said that before…on numerous occasions….sorry!


this is really non-news and I have been on the BBC forum to let people know this. Incidentally I seem to recall that QE is due to be dry docked in Rosyth in late 2018/early 2019 when it will swap with POW and I assume undertake further work to rectify this and all the other snagging items that must surely have been found. Interestingly – there is an article on new houses that are unfit to live in also on the BBC and this doesn’t get the same hype – but it shows the uneven treatment given – minor leak… Read more »


Pacman27 if we had journalists worthy of the name they might be able to link the very poor build quality in housing, which is endemic with the bad design and lapse regulatory control of the construction industry that led in part to Grenfell. There is a huge story to be disclosed but it would take someone with knowledge to expose it, which it seems in the modern media era where the attention span of a Goldfish is the norm means it isn’t going to happen.


TH.. I assume you are referring the country you live in – but dont support.

Your comments are pretty disgraceful on a number of levels – but hope you have a nice day…

Geoffrey Roach

Pacman…Water on the brain came into my head as soon as I saw the initials T H !!


TH – The country itself does not ‘think’. Sorry to disabuse you of that fantasy.

But we British clearly think and believe we are better than the opinions you hold as we think and believe we are simply the best. You clearly do not. So why do you live here (if you do)?


I have a leaking mains water tap. The BBC blames Brexit …


Haha Chris…like it!
But in the name of balance they’ll print in small print at the bottom
‘Other leaking taps available elsewhere ‘ and… ‘ some European countries also have leaking taps’ …
BBC a shadow of its former self me thinks.


AV – Or more likely:
“In the latest opinion poll from the Guardian confirming leaking water taps increased since the vote to leave the EU …….”

“The number of frozen pipes causing leaking taps has increased since the UK voted to leave the EU. An EU water expert denied that freezing weather contributed in any way …”


Chris, your leaking tap means your house is taking on water and is in danger of sinking. Better call The Sun as I’m sure they would be interested in plastering it all over the front page tomorrow.


I might ‘Leak’ the story to the Sun


Sorry couldn’t resist ( it is a big story after all )


AV – don’t be such a drip ….

(Equally apologetic)


Clive – “House in Suffolk sinks slowly in the East ……”

Evan P

This isn’t a disaster, you clearly know very little about how ships work. Leaks of this nature are a very common issue, and an easy fix. It doesn’t have an enormous gaping hole if that’s what you think it is. I’ve been on sailing boats 33ft long and in rough weather, water gets into the bilges one way or another, so you pump it out. The QE has pumps. To call it a disaster, I would say that the ship would have to be unable to deal with the problem, but it can, so shut up.


it,s ok a repair ship with divers were there earlier to check on it….it,s probably when a net or something got caught in one of the props out on her trials which is common for any ship,not that the media care they just print off a panic page regardless…


The Russian navy would give their back teeth to have a leak rate of only 200 litres per hour.

Mr Bell

TH thank you. you have just proven all your posts are written from the basement of the Kremlin. anyone who thinks the Russian carrier kuznetsov is anything other than a pile of rust is sadly deluded. on her last deployment she lost 3 of her mighty airwing of 9 jets to crashes all 3 related to either take off or landing. QE and Prince of Wales without any doubt are the right ships and will be the key ships of our fleet for the next 50 years. Money well spent. Happy to say that as a uk taxpayer and citizen.… Read more »


Well said Mr Bell.

Who’d of thought a little water in the bilge would draw comparison to the Kuznetsov lol

We’re all laughing at TH really…gotta feel sorry for him.

Daniele Mandelli

Laughing? Im not.

I’m furious a cretin like that who so hates the nation and the armed forces can come on here and hide behind initials.


He can’t help it…what with his blinkered upbringing and leftist ideals.
Freedom of speech and all that…
But yes agree…but personally I’d rather laugh at his attempts to troll this site…
Beats getting angry and upsetting my day.

Evan P

AV, he’s not left, he’s insane. He also said that he votes Conservative so chew on that one. Let’s not be as childish as him and use the term “leftist”.

Daniele Mandelli

Ah, the unpatriotic cretin.

Go jump in the river.


Haha, yeah whatever.
You’re not really keeping up with whats happening are you?
More likely Trident will be given it’s own budget and the conventional defence budget will grow.
Thus minimising cuts and offsetting the temporary exchange rate problem.


TH – Yes I watched that piece. It was from a clearly anti-nuclear lobby group and funded by some international peace outfit. The sort of people that would happily emasculate the western world and not say a peep to Russia. Or North Korea. Or Pakistan. or India.

So I can understand why some myopic little hater like yourself would be drawn to them ….


Our Mission: Spread ideas
TED is a global community, welcoming people from every discipline and culture who seek a deeper understanding of the world. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.

So no agenda there then TH ……


OMG a ship with a leak…….

I just love they way the news reports carry on, and I paraphrase a bit “Well this is a minor issue but if you add it up with all the other pointless and inane issues we’ve blow out of proportion over the last few years we can make out it’s really an embarising trend of incidents that shows the MOD as incompetent”.