Over 200 tons of water leaked onto HMS Queen Elizabeth, 3 sailors nearly drowned

An internal leak has forced aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to return to port earlier than expected. While the Royal Navy admitted she took “a small amount of water,” media reports suggested the whole accident was way bigger.

The aircraft carrier was forced to abandon sea trials and return to Portsmouth on Tuesday, a few days ahead of schedule. The return was described by the Navy as a “precautionary measure,” as it tried to downplay the whole issue.

Following a minor issue with an internal system, the ship’s company were required to remove a small volume of water from the ship. An investigation into the cause is underway,” a Navy spokesperson stated.

The leak might have actually not been that “small,” a report by the Forces News suggested. The aircraft carrier actually took over 200 tons of salt water after a high-pressure pipe bust, a source told the outlet. The leak caused flooding on several decks and put three sailors at risk of drowning. The mass of water has damaged a stairwell, bent several bulkheads and even split some deck-plates.

To be fair, some 200 tons of water might indeed not be that big of a deal for a two 280-meter, 65,000-ton behemoth of a vessel. Still, the salt water is quite corrosive and Big Lizzy might have sustained more long-term damage.

Back in May, the aircraft carrier hit the news after its captain, Commodore Nick Cook-Priest, was abruptly “reassigned.” While no specific reason to dismiss the officer, who took the helm back in October 2018 was given, the British media reported he was actually reprimanded for misusing the ship’s official car, a Ford Galaxy minivan, for personal trips.