Big Lizzie’s captain SACKED: Royal Navy is accused of overreacting after dismissing ‘exceptional and popular’ skipper of flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth ‘for using his official car at weekends’
- Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest was sacked from the £3bn HMS Queen Elizabeth after the ‘innocent mistake’
- Insiders claimed that the Commodore was never warned that the Royal Navy car was for official duties only
- He was dismissed this week after a Top Brass investigation found him guilty of an ‘error of judgement’
Portrait of Captain Nick Cooke-Priest OBE, who was sacked from his role as Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth
The Royal Navy has been accused of overreacting after it sacked ‘one of its best’ officers for the minor indiscretion of driving its official car on weekends.
Commodore Nick Cooke-Priest, 50, had been the captain of the £3 billion HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier since October, but was fired after driving the ship’s Ford Galaxy ‘as if it was his own’.
Insiders claimed that the Commodore was never warned that the car was for official duties only, and he is said to be ‘gutted’ after discovering he had breached the rules by making personal journeys in the Galaxy.
One source is quoted in The Sun as saying he should merely have been given a ‘slap on the wrist’.
Another former officer told the paper: ‘Nick adores the Navy and has lost his career by doing what captains have done for decades — using the company car to get home.
‘An innocent mistake has cost the Navy one of its best.’
Commodore Cooke-Priest was dismissed this week after a Top Brass investigation found him guilty of an ‘error of judgement’.
The respected officer had commanded a 700-strong crew, but an insider said his position had become ‘untenable’ as he could not properly discipline his sailors after breaking the rules himself.
Captain Nick Cooke-Priest (pictured with Prince Charles) was fired over the ‘misuse’ of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s official car
HMS Queen Elizabeth (pictured) is one of the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy and capable of carrying up to 60 aircraft
The ‘exceptional and popular captain’ was dismissed for allegedly driving the ship’s Ford Galaxy (similar to above) ‘as if it was his own’
The Royal Navy confirmed that Captain Nick Cooke-Priest has been ‘reassigned to a new role’ but declined to say what it was
It is understood that proceedings are ongoing to determine whether he will receive any formal punishment.
However it almost certainly means the end of his highly-distinguished career.
In the meantime has been assigned a ‘new role’ in the Navy – though it was not clear what this involves – and will be replaced as the captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth by the Prince of Wales’ skipper Steve Moorhouse.
A Navy source told The Sun: ‘We’re sacrificing one of our best operational Commanding Officers to ensure we’re beyond whiter than white.
HMS Queen Elizabeth goes under the Forth Rail Bridge, and Queens Ferry Crossing in Scotland as it returns to the docks for scheduled maintainance last month
The HMS Queen Elizabeth was built at the Rosyth Dockyard in Fife and will now return in preparation for official service
Image of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, seen here in October last year coming into New York Harbour with the Statue of Liberty in the foreground
Hundreds of sailors and officers are pictured taking in the views on HMS Queen Victoria’s deck in New York Harbor
Personnel on board ‘Big Lizzie’ waved and took pictures of Manhattan upon their arrival in the Big Apple
Plenty of room: ‘Big Lizzie’ weighs a whopping 70,000 tons and features a four-acre flight deck
‘Queen Elizabeth’s sailors have lost an exceptional and popular captain because of a policy which looks like it’s politically driven.
‘A few years ago, all he would have got is a slap on the wrist.’
It is understood that Commodore Cooke-Priest paid for his own petrol and was not accused of fraud, although exactly which private journeys he made have not been disclosed.
The Royal Navy said: ‘We can confirm Captain Nick Cooke-Priest has been reassigned to a new role. We can only say management action is ongoing and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further.’
Inside Britain’s most powerful warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth
At 280 metres long, with a lifespan of half a century and a flight deck of four acres, HMS Queen Elizabeth is Britain’s largest and most powerful warship ever built.
Here are the facts and figures behind the vessel which was officially commissioned into the Royal Navy December 7, 2017
HMS Queen Elizabeth, pictured, weighs some 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed of 25 knots and a four-acre flight deck
Captain Nick Cook-Priest was the new captain of the ship and is pictured above in his official portrait
The vessel has a crew of 700, although that will increase to 1,600 when she has a full complement of F-35B jets
- The aircraft carrier weighs 65,000 tonnes and has a top speed in excess of 25 knots.
- A number of ship building yards around the country were involved in the build – these include Govan and Scotstoun in Glasgow, Appledore in Devon, Cammell Laird in Liverpool, A&P on the Tyne in Newcastle and Portsmouth.
- A total of 10,000 people worked on construction of the ship, made up in sections at yards around the UK and transported to Rosyth, Fife, where it was assembled.
- It is the second ship in the Royal Navy to be named Queen Elizabeth.
- The ship has a crew of around 700, that will increase to 1,600 when a full complement of F-35B jets and Crowsnest helicopters are embarked.
- There are 364,000 metres of pipes inside the ship, and from keel to masthead she measures 56 metres, four metres more than Niagara Falls.
- Facilities onboard include a chapel, a medical centre and 12-bed ward, staffed with GPs, a nurse and medical assistants, as well as a dentist and dental nurse.
- There are also five gyms on the warship which include a cardiovascular suite, two free weight rooms and a boxing gym.
- Regular fitness circuit sessions and sporting activities such as basketball and tug of war are held in the hangar and on the flight deck, with weights and other items stored inside the flight deck ramp.
- The Captain of the ship was Nick Cook-Priest
- There are five galleys on the warship which is where the food is cooked and those on board eat their meals everyday. This includes two main galleys, the bridge mess and an aircrew refreshment bar.
- The distribution network on board manages enough energy to power 30,000 kettles or 5,500 family homes.
- Its flight deck is 280 metres long and 70 metres wide, enough space for three football pitches.
- The entire ship’s company of 700 can be served a meal within 90 minutes, 45 minutes when at action stations.
- Recreational spaces enjoyed by the crew feature televisions and sofas, as well as popular board games including the traditional Royal Navy game of Uckers.
- Each of the two aircraft lifts on HMS Queen Elizabeth can move two fighter jets from the hangar to the flight deck in 60 seconds.
- The warship has a range of 8,000 to 10,000 nautical miles, and has two propellers – each weighing 33 tonnes and with a combined 80MW output of power – enough to run 1,000 family cars or 50 high speed trains.
Big Lizzie’s big pal: RAF Chinook is stowed into a hangar on the HMS Queen Elizabeth in a first for a British aircraft carrier
For the first time ever a giant RAF Chinook helicopter has been stowed in the hangar of a British aircraft carrier.
With the nose protruding over the edge of one of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s two mighty aircraft lifts, the 99ft-long helicopter from RAF 7 Squadron was moved from the flight to the hangar deck.
So large are the lifts and hangar spaces on the new Portsmouth-based warship that there’s no need even to fold the rotors.
This image, taken yesterday shows the first time ever a giant RAF Chinook helicopter has been stowed in the hangar of a British aircraft carrier
The ZH902 – a special trials variant of the Chinook – was joined by a second helicopter, and two Merlins, all from the Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC) at MOD Boscombe Down, and a couple of Merlin Mk2s from 820 Naval Air Squadron.
All six helicopters are onboard Queen Elizabeth for trials, finding out what the operating parameters are of the airframes flying from the carrier at sea.
They were transferred to the hangar yesterday in advance of rough weather as the 65,000-tonne warship – the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy – made her way towards Gibraltar for today’s visit, keeping the helicopters out of harm’s way of the elements.