An Illustrious return

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HMS Illustrious returns to Portsmouth Harbor on January 10, 2014 in Portsmouth, England. The ship returns with her 650 crew after a five month deployment to South East Asia delivering Aid relief to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

She is the oldest ship in the Royal Navy’s active fleet and it is envisaged that she will be withdrawn from service in 2014 (after
32 years’ service) and will not be replaced until HMS Queen Elizabeth is commissioned in 2016. The only operational aircraft carrier in the British fleet, she lost her fixed wing air arm when the MoD retired the Harrier fleet in 2006  and now can only operate helicopters. The last of the 1980s era Invincible class of 20,000-ton ‘harrier-carriers’ , it is envisioned that she will be kept as a museum ship when retired later this year.

Her two sister-ships, Invincible and Ark Royal have been sold for scrap.

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