A number of Navy personnel have been admitted to hospital after the water supply onboard a ship was found to have been contaminated.

Submarine hunter HMS Portland was forced to cancel its mission and return to a naval base in Portsmouth after chemicals were thought to have leaked into the ship’s fresh water system.

The issue is currently being investigated.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that HMS Portland has returned to HMNB Portsmouth as a precautionary measure, following an issue with one of the ship’s fresh water systems.

‘The health and safety of our personnel is of the utmost importance and we are taking a number of measures to safeguard the ship’s company whilst the issue is investigated.

‘A small number of personnel were taken to hospital as a precaution and HMS Richmond has been stood up to cover any contingencies.

‘The recent issue with contaminated water in HMS Portland will be investigated thoroughly.

‘Nearly all involved have been discharged from hospital.

‘All are expected to make a full recovery.

‘We take the health and welfare of our people very seriously and will review processes to ensure this does not happen again.’

The problem is believed to have been caused by following a mix-up by a young engineer, who rapidly alerted senior sailors on the ship after becoming aware of the error.

The warships use reverse osmosis to engineer fresh water, and the engineer in question is believed to have put the wrong chemicals in the wrong hole.

A Navy source told The Sun: ‘The person who committed this mistake acted with honesty and integrity to let senior officers know what had happened.

‘If they were not to do that this could have been a whole lot worse.

‘Integrity and honesty are key components of the Royal Navy and we are glad they have been upheld.’

Last month HMS Portland, a Type 23 frigate, was involved in monitoring a Russian-guided missile frigate and accompanying tanker as they sailed in international waters near the UK.

The vessel underwent a major refit in 2021 and is adept at surface warfare and hunting submarines, the Royal Navy has previously said.

It spent much of last year patrolling waters close to the UK, with visits to Norway and Sweden, and working with Nato allies on the alliance’s submarine hunting exercise, Dynamic Mongoose, in the North Atlantic. – The Metro

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