HMS Prince of Wales. Image MoD Crown Copyright. HMS Prince of Wales. Image MoD Crown Copyright.

How about this for flooding in an unusual place … it’s put the UK’s newest aircraft carrier out of action for 6 months

Flooding on warships isn’t as rare as you’d probably think

Britain’s newest aircraft carrier has been hit by a flood for the second time in just a few months … but this time it has been so badly damaged it will need repairs costing millions of pounds.

The flood on board the £3.2bn HMS Prince of Wales in Portsmouth is thought to have seriously damaged complex electrical cabling and systems which will take around 6 months to repair. The flood is believed to have come from a burst fire mains system that supplies seawater to the fire hydrants to douse any fires on board the giant ship. The water submerged electrical cabinets and an engine compartment was flooded to a depth of 3ft.

Apart from the obvious repairs that are now needed it’s understood that miles of cables will need to be checked for damage. The flood is reported to have affected the ship’s high-voltage electrical propulsion system which consists of two Rolls-Royce Marine gas turbine alternators and four diesel engines providing a total power of around 110 megawatts. 

The 65,000-tonne Prince of Wales was commissioned into service with the Royal Navy exactly a year ago on December 10, 2019 but suffered its first flood in May this year with water pouring through a ceiling and flooding one of the living quarters. The 920ft-long ship is due to be fully operational by 2023.

Its sister ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, suffered a high pressure burst in July 2019 which  caused flooding on several decks.

At the time the ship’s then commanding officer Captain Steve Moorhouse said that in his experience leaks were a ‘weekly’ problem for warships.

It could be the Royal Navy would benefit from FloodSax alternative sandbags which soak up leaks and spills in hard-to-reach places. They can also be used to divert floodwater away from expensive electrical or other vital equipment.

FloodSax resemble large pillowcases until they come into contact with water and when they do they absorb the water to inflate to weigh 20kg (44lbs) which makes them more effective than traditional sandbags at keeping floodwater out or building a barrier to divert water away.

They are so space-saving that 20 fit into a cardboard box which is easy to store and for one person to carry. Almost 3 million have now been sold worldwide.