The UK Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has been forced to return to Portsmouth after a leak was discovered.

HMS Queen Elizabeth left Portsmouth in June for five weeks of sea trials and was originally due to return next week for planned maintenance. The ship, the lead in the Queen Elizabeth class, was live-fire testing its General Dynamics Phalanx close-in weapons systems.

The £3.1bn aircraft carrier has not suffered any damage to the hull but water was discovered inside an internal compartment that had to be pumped out.

An MOD spokesperson said: “Following a minor issue with an internal system on HMS Queen Elizabeth, the ship’s company were required to remove a small volume of water from the ship. An investigation into the cause is underway.”

The ship was set to head to the US after the sea trials for further training. The Royal Navy has yet to confirm whether this training will still go ahead.

The ship was commissioned in 2017 and has faced a number of issues during testing including a shaft seal leak, sprinkler malfunctions and the dismissal of its captain for misuse of an official MOD car. The previous leak caused the ship to take on around 200 litres of water an hour.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth has a length of 200 metres weighing 65,000 tonnes and a capacity to hold 60 aircraft. The ship will carry the Royal Navy and Royal Air Forces new joint F-35 fleet once it enters service.

Once operational the HMS Queen Elizabeth will carry senior naval staff and work as a command centre for the whole of the UK’s fleet. Once it enters active service the HMS Queen Elizabeth will replace the HMS Albion as the Royal Navy’s flagship vessel.

The Royal Navy was reached for comment but did not elaborate on the issues on board.