Royal Navy's last aircraft carrier heads to scrapyard

Zhang Tao

LONDON, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The British Royal Navy's last aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious, is to be broken up for scrap, it was announced Tuesday.

The Ministry of Defense said in London the Illustrious, in service since 1982, has been sold for 2.64 million U.S. dollars to a breaker's yard in Turkey, after efforts to find a new home, or a new use for the carrier, proved fruitless.

The city of Hull in northern England had hoped to save the carrier for the nation as a museum, and as a centrepiece to its year in 2017 as Britain's City of Culture.

The MOD said following an open competition, the former aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious is to be recycled.

"In 32 years of exemplary service HMS Illustrious covered over 900,000 nautical miles (1.67 million kilometers). Operations ranged from stabilization efforts in the immediate aftermath of the first Gulf War and delivering humanitarian aid after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013," said an MOD spokesman.

In October 2013, the MOD launched a competition to seek innovative bids to retain the aircraft carrier in Britain. The aim of the competition was to see part or all of the ship developed for heritage purposes and, while a number of bids were received, none proved to be viable, said the ministry.

Minister for Defense Procurement Harriett Baldwin said: "We have done all we can for over two years to find a home for the former HMS Illustrious in the UK, and regrettably all options have now been exhausted."

The ship has been sold to Turkish company LEYAL Ship Recycling Ltd.

Its sister carriers, Invincible and Ark Royal, were also scrapped. It is anticipated that Illustrious will leave Portsmouth for Turkey in the autumn of this year, ahead of the arrival of the first of the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2017.

"The QEC aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, will transform the Royal Navy's ability to project our influence overseas, able to respond to crises, while promoting our prosperity and British values globally," said the MOD.


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