The departure of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales, on its journey near the Isle of Wight, has been postponed at the last minute today (Sunday, February 11).

HMS Prince of Wales had replaced its sister ship HMS Queen Elizabeth – which was also forced to cancel its deployment – and was expected to take over the ship's role in large-scale NATO exercises.

Read more: HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carrier to be seen off Isle of Wight on Sunday

Isle of Wight County Press: Paddle steamer Waverley passing the broken down HMS Prince of Wales off the Island in 2022Paddle steamer Waverley passing the broken down HMS Prince of Wales off the Island in 2022 (Image: Tyler Bernard)

The sailing of HMS Queen Elizabeth was also called off last minute after an “issue” was found in final checks with the starboard propeller coupling – the same malfunction HMS Prince of Wales suffered off the coast of the Island 18 months ago.

After the cancellation was announced, the crew and base workers at Portsmouth Naval Base could be seen busily preparing, with scaffolding on the carrier’s flight deck removed ahead of sailing, scheduled for this lunchtime.

People lined the walls of Portsmouth Harbour to watch the 65,000-tonne warship head out onto the Solent and pass the Isle of Wight.

But after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) police boats had secured the area and the harbour mouth was closed to traffic, HMS Prince of Wales failed to leave the jetty.

It remains unclear if the sailing was cancelled before the carrier was set to leave or whether it had made its first movements from the jetty.

After about 20 minutes, the hundreds of people gathered to wave off the ship started to disperse as word spread that it would not be leaving.