THE Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier has sprung a leak — just weeks before she sets off on her maiden round-the-world voyage.
Thousands of gallons of salt water flooded the 65,000-ton HMS Queen Elizabeth as she sailed from Portsmouth to Scotland last month.
It is a major blow for the £3.2billion vessel as it prepares for its toughest challenge — to lead a strike group with US and Dutch warships through the South China Sea.
The 920ft aircraft carrier — the most expensive ship built for the Royal Navy — has been dogged by dodgy plumbing and a leaky propeller since first going to sea in 2017.
The latest flood was caused by a burst fire main, despite £5.5million upgrades to faulty sprinkler systems after similar leaks last year.
A source told The Sun: “The crew can’t wait to set sail in May but they are fed up with leaks and equipment failures.
"It is a huge moment for the Navy and for Britain. They will have enough to worry about without pipes bursting all the time.”
Big Lizzy’s sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, has been stuck in Portsmouth for a year after a burst fire main swamped an engine room and blew thousands of miles of cables.
Labour’s shadow armed forces minister Stephen Morgan said: “Repeated floods raise questions about the capability of our carriers.
"HMS Queen Elizabeth will perform work vital to our national security.
"The Government must be up front about readiness.”
The Navy spent £10million repairing the carriers last year.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “There was a minor breach of a saltwater pipe in March which was fixed swiftly and had no impact on the ship’s programme.”
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