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Captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth will not return to Portsmouth on board ship

The Royal Navy said the decision surrounding Captain Nick Cooke-Priest has been taken as ‘a precautionary measure’.

The aircraft carrier in the Firth of Forth after leaving Rosyth Dockyards following maintenance (Andrew Milligan/PA)
The aircraft carrier in the Firth of Forth after leaving Rosyth Dockyards following maintenance (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The captain of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be allowed to return to Portsmouth on board the ship, although he technically remains in command.

The Royal Navy said the decision surrounding Captain Nick Cooke-Priest has been taken as “a precautionary measure”.

The move comes days after it emerged that he was being reassigned after he had used a Royal Naval car for personal journeys.

He was, however, still expected to be captain of the ship when it sailed this week from the east coast of Scotland to Portsmouth.

But a Royal Navy spokesman said on Wednesday: “In light of the ongoing investigation, as a precautionary measure to protect both the individual and the Ship’s Company, the Royal Navy has decided that Captain Nick Cooke-Priest will not be at sea in HMS Queen Elizabeth.”

It is understood that he nevertheless remains in official command and will formally hand over to the new captain on May 28, as planned.

Suitably qualified personnel are understood to be on board for the passage south.

The 65,000-tonne warship is returning to Portsmouth after spending the last six weeks in dry dock at Rosyth in Fife, where it was originally built, to undergo a hull inspection and routine maintenance.

Work carried out during the ship’s time out of the water included replacing 284 hull valves, removing and cleaning both rudder blades and applying a fresh coat of anti-foul paint to the ship’s bottom.

Successful completion of the work means HMS Queen Elizabeth should not need to dock down again for another six years, the Navy said.

The carrier will go on to conduct a period of sea trials and training before a planned deployment to the east coast of the United States later in the year.

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