Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in Firth of Forth ahead of repairs

HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s fleet flagship, has arrived in the Firth of Forth ahead of a period of repairs in Fife.

The 65,000-tonne warship is returning to the Rosyth dockyard where it was assembled in order for an issue with its starboard propeller coupling to be rectified.

In February, the £3 billion aircraft carrier had been due to take part in Steadfast Defender – Nato’s largest military exercise since the Cold War – when the problem was discovered shortly before it was due to sail.

At short notice, its sister aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales was called in to form the heart of a carrier strike group in the exercise, with helicopters and F-35 fighter jets on board.

While moored at Glen Mallan on Loch Long, Argyll and Bute, earlier in March, HMS Queen Elizabeth suffered a fire in an accommodation area which the navy said was “quickly brought under control”.

The Earl of Minto, a defence minister of state, has said the issue on the carrier is not thought to be as serious as the propeller shaft defect which led to nine months of drydock work on Prince of Wales.

On Thursday morning, the fleet flagship passed under the Forth bridges with its radio mast dipped – the only way it can fit underneath.

On the fire at Glen Mallan, a Royal Navy spokeswoman said: “An isolated fire in the accommodation area of HMS Queen Elizabeth was quickly brought under control and extinguished in the early hours of Saturday.

“We take the health and safety of our service personnel extremely seriously and are conducting an investigation to understand the cause of the fire.

“This will have no impact on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s current programme and the Royal Navy continues to fulfil all its commitments.”

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