Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest, captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the largest British aircraft carrier, will sail the ship to Portsmouth after being relieved of command for reportedly borrowing the ship's official minivan for family trips.
"Cdre Cook Priest has not yet been recalled, he has simply not yet been reassigned and will remain in command until he is", a Navy spokesman said.
Officials also confirmed there was no allegation of fraud, adding that the skipper, who had assumed command in October 2018, always paid for his own petrol.
Captain Nick Cooke-Priest, the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, has been relieved of his duties. The RN has confirmed that he has been reassigned to a new role without providing a specific reason. https://t.co/mEpGBrklc1 pic.twitter.com/8lPDgwoBPf— Grey Funnel Line (@GreyFunnelLine) May 20, 2019
In the meantime, the Queen Elizabeth, which was commissioned in December 2017, is still sailing without an air wing, as the Royal Navy had decided to purchase the most expensive version of F-35 fighters, made by Lockheed Martin, with a base price of at least $115 million per aircraft.
Commenting on the issue, US Marine Corps Lieutenant-General Steven Rudder noted earlier in May that a USMC fighter squadron was preparing to deploy aboard the Royal Navy carrier sometime in 2021.