The Royal Navy's troubled £3 billion warship, HMS Prince of Wales, has left dry dock nearly a year after breaking down off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

The aircraft carrier suffered a broken propeller shaft not long after setting sail from Portsmouth Naval Base for a diplomatic mission to the United States, in August 2022.

The 65,000 tonne vessel came to a halt off the Isle of Wight and was brought under tow back into harbour for the problem to be identified.

It was then taken to Babcock shipyard, in Rosyth, Scotland, to undergo repairs, which have taken nine months to complete.

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Fears had been raised that the ship was being “cannibalised” for parts to be used on sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth but Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said this was “perfectly normal” and the ship would return to service by the autumn.

The carrier moved out of dry dock at Rosyth and into the River Forth on Friday before it begins its journey back to Portsmouth.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “The carrier will then build on her previous successes including acting as Nato’s command ship and leading the Maritime High Readiness Force in the Arctic, before she takes over from HMS Queen Elizabeth as the nation’s flagship towards the end of 2024.”

The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Hewitt, said: “We are returning HMS Prince of Wales to operations as the most advanced warship ever built for the Royal Navy.

“This year, we will be operating F-35s, V-22 Ospreys, drones and the RN Merlin helicopters – pushing the boundaries of naval aviation and UK Carrier Strike capability as we progress towards a global deployment in 2025.

“Our sailors are paramount to ensuring our return to operations. They have approached the task of getting us back to sea with the remarkable ethos that I have come to expect from them. They are a credit to the ship and the Royal Navy.”

The navy spokesperson said that the ship’s engineering departments had worked with civilian engineers from Babcock to fix the propeller shafts along with BAE Systems which has also been carrying out previously-planned upgrade works.

He added that the 750-strong crew have undergone training and supported recruitment drives as well as taking part in civic events during the period of the repairs.

The spokesperson added: “Once the ship has completed her propulsion trials, she will bring her flight deck back to life before returning to Portsmouth to prepare for her autumn deployment to the USA.”