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Britain Considers Selling Aircraft Carrier HMS Prince of Wales Amid Defense Budget Crisis

British media outlets report that the Royal Navy may be compelled to either decommission or sell the 65,000-ton aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, to friendly nations in order to address a critical shortfall in the country's defense budget.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The United Kingdom is currently grappling with a significant defense budget crisis that has put a strain on its military forces, to the extent that national media outlets are reporting that the country’s second aircraft carrier, the 65,000-ton HMS Prince of Wales, may be sold at a “fire-sale” price to interested friendly nations.

British media have indicated that the Royal Navy might be forced to either decommission or sell the HMS Prince of Wales to offset the critical shortfall in the nation’s defense budget.

These reports, citing sources within the Royal Navy, suggest that a decision on whether to end service or sell the HMS Prince of Wales could be made as early as 2028.

Sources within the Royal Navy have begun to express plans for expenditure reduction in the armed forces after the government is likely not to increase the defense budget.

The Ministry of Defense is expected to present its defense budget next week.

Kapal Pengangkut Pesawat
HMS Prince of Wales


The Daily Mail, one of the national media outlets, reported being informed by sources within the navy that scenarios in which the Royal Navy would be compelled to sell the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales have been discussed by the Maritime Enterprise Planning Group, a body focused on future naval planning and strategy.

“There is an acknowledgment within the Maritime Enterprise Planning Group that the Navy is struggling to maintain its operational commitments. The second British aircraft carrier is an expensive asset and equipment that is seldom used. Therefore, if we wish to address the financial issue of the armed forces, disposing of (the aircraft carrier) or sharing it with AUKUS countries (Australia, United States) is an option (for sale),” said the group.

Commissioned into Royal Navy service in 2019 after years of construction at a cost of US$3 billion (RM13.5 billion), the HMS Prince of Wales is the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier after the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

With a crew of 1,600, it can carry up to 36 F-35B (Vertical Short Take-off and Landing) fighter aircraft, excluding helicopters.

Despite being commissioned into the Royal Navy only five years ago, the HMS Prince of Wales has a notably lengthy history of malfunctions shortly after entering service.

Kapal Pengangkut Pesawat
HMS Prince of Wales dan HMS Queen Elizabeth


In 2020, the ship was stranded in Portsmouth after water entered its engine room, causing damage to its electrical systems.

Within two years of commissioning, the aircraft carrier spent approximately 90 days at sea, with leaks detected twice within five months.

 In 2022, the vessel experienced a malfunction as it was preparing to sail to the United States, sustaining damage in the waters off southern England shortly after departing from its base in Portsmouth.

Admiral Steve Moorhouse stated that the ship suffered mechanical damage to its “starboard shaft” and would be towed to a location for more thorough inspection and repair. — DSA