Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth after replacing HMS Prince of Wales in US

Families and well-wishers lined the harbour walls and the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth on Thursday to welcome the aircraft carrier. Credit: PA

The Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed into its home port after taking the place of its sister ship which broke down on the way to a diplomatic visit to the United States.

Families and well-wishers lined the harbour walls and the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth to welcome the aircraft carrier as it returned to Portsmouth Naval Base.

The warship sailed at the last minute to New York, where it hosted the Atlantic Future Forum (AFF) - a defence conference focusing on Anglo-American military, political and strategic relations.

The 65,000-tonne warship was forced to change its deployment plans after HMS Prince of Wales suffered a broken propeller shaft shortly after leaving Portsmouth in August.

Aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales anchored off the coast of Gosport, Hampshire, after it suffered a propeller shaft malfunction. Credit: PA

After being brought back to base, the beleaguered Prince of Wales sailed to Rosyth in Scotland to undergo repairs in dry dock which could take several months.

The Queen Elizabeth returned to the home of the Royal Navy on Thursday where it is expected to prepare to continue its autumn programme of exercises in the Mediterranean and Baltic seas.

HMS Prince of Wales broke down off the Isle of Wight in August after sailing from Portsmouth Naval Base to take part in flight trials as well as host the AFF.

Inspections by divers and engineers found that the Nato flagship's 33-ton starboard propeller - the same weight as 30 Ford Fiesta cars - had malfunctioned, with a coupling holding it in place breaking.

A tug helps Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales return to Portsmouth Naval Base after breaking down off the Isle of Wight. Credit: PA

The carrier was taken back to Portsmouth for further examination by engineers from Babcock before the decision was taken for it to travel to Rosyth in Fife, where it was built, to undergo repairs.

The giant warship's departure for Scotland was delayed twice, firstly because it took longer than expected to remove the damaged propeller and secondly because of an unrelated issue involving a leak in a fuel pipe.

A Royal Navy spokesman said: "The full extent of the repairs will be known once the ship has entered dry dock.

"We are committed to getting HMS Prince of Wales back on operations, protecting the nation and our allies, as soon as possible."