LONDON — Britain’s new aircraft carrier has returned to its base early after the warship developed a leak during sea trials.
The 65,000-ton HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to return to its base at Portsmouth, southern England, later this week after five weeks of trials and training. But trials were terminated when water flooded a compartment Tuesday on the £3.1 billion (U.S. $3.9 billion) warship — the first of two carriers being built for the Royal Navy.
The cause of the leak is unclear, but one report said a high-pressure seawater pipe ruptured, letting in more than 200 tons of water.
The Ministry of Defence said it didn’t recognize the 200-ton figure. A spokesperson for the ministry described the leak as a “minor issue with an internal system.”
It’s the second time the warship has sprung a leak during trials. In late 2017, a shaft seal leak required the warship to return to base.
The warship is scheduled to leave for the East Coast of the United States later this year to begin operational trials involving British F-35 fighter jets.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.