Since its sister ship’s cancellation was announced, the crew and base workers have been preparing HMS Prince of Wales to take the lead in the exercise.
It comes at a time where concerns have been raised regarding the decision not to send either of the UK’s aircraft carriers to the Red Sea, where dozens of drone and missile attacks have been launched against British and American commercial and naval ships since November last year.
The attacks have caused major delays for global shipping, as tankers and container ships are re-rerouted around Africa to avoid the narrow Bab al-Mandab strait, the entry point to the Red Sea between Yemen and Djibouti.
The Telegraph previously revealed that HMS Queen Elizabeth was not at optimal readiness for deployment because of a Navy staffing shortage, though defence sources insisted earlier this year that both carriers were ready to be deployed to the region if necessary.
On Sunday morning spectators lined the walls of Portsmouth Harbour to watch the vessel’s departure.
However after Ministry of Defence police boats secured the area and the harbour mouth was closed to traffic, as part of normal protocol for the departure of a carrier, the channel was reopened with HMS Prince of Wales having failed to leave the jetty.
It is unclear if the sailing was cancelled before the carrier was set to leave or whether it had made its first movements from the jetty at Portsmouth Naval Base.
One member of the public who had come to wave off the carrier said: “I hope it hasn’t broken down again.”
After about 20 minutes, the hundreds of people gathered to see the ship started to disperse as word spread that it was not leaving.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: “The aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is due to sail from Portsmouth soon, subject to suitable tide and weather conditions. Any further updates on sailing times will be published on KHM Portsmouth’s shipping movements later today.”