THE Royal Navy have been asked if HMS Prince of Wales is "an unlucky ship" and why it keeps breaking down after more faults were found in the £3 billion aircraft carrier.

It retreated to Rosyth last October to repair "significant damage" to the starboard propeller shaft and last week MPs on the Defence Select Committee were told there are "similar issues" with the port side shaft.

Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood MP suggested the warship had spent more time in dry dock than at sea before an exasperated Mark Francois MP said the UK cannot have a "carrier with a limp".

A full investigation into the "root cause of the failure" is underway as Mr Francois said: "The Prince of Wales was commissioned in December 2019.

"She suffered two serious leaks in 2020. According to The Times, between October 2020 and April 2021, she spent 193 days having that water damage repaired.

"In August 2021, she set sail for the east coast.

"She then breaks down and has to be towed to Rosyth.

"What, fundamentally, is the problem with this £3 billion warship? What actually is the problem?"

Vice Admiral Paul Marshall told the committee that the repairs to the HMS Prince of Wales' starboard shaft should be completed in the Spring.

She will then sail from Rosyth to her home base of Portsmouth for pre-planned maintenance and re-join operations in the Autumn.

Mr Ellwood asked: "This has obviously been a bit of a setback. I think it arguably may have spent more time in dry dock than it has at sea."

He asked if the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of the aircraft carriers to be assembled at Rosyth Dockyard, had suffered the same problems.

Vice Admiral Marshall said they had carried out checks and added: "We do not believe that there is a class issue with the shafts in the carriers.

"With the defects to the Prince of Wales’s shaft, we have obviously done appropriate checks on the port shaft.

"We found similar issues with the port shaft and we will be repairing the port shaft at the same time as the starboard shaft."

Mr Francois said: "She is the same design as HMS Queen Elizabeth, which has not had any of these problems.

"Is the Prince of Wales just an unlucky ship, or is there something that went wrong with the build of the Prince of Wales that did not happen with the Queen Elizabeth?

"Why does the Prince of Wales keep breaking down? We cannot have – when you add in the air group – a £5 billion carrier with a limp."

Mr Ellwood asked if the problems with the warship was "something that happened while at sea or was it something that happened in the build itself"?

Vice Admiral Marshall replied: "In parallel with the repair, we are carrying out a full investigation into the root cause of the failure.

"That investigation is nearing completion: it would be inappropriate for me to discuss conclusions ahead of briefing our own ministers."