The final ride of the Illustrious
Britain’s last “Harrier Carrier” ex-HMS Illustrious (R06), the fifth warship and second flattop to bear the name in the Royal Navy since 1789, had been courted by three different cities in the UK for use as a floating museum ship in the past couple years. Alas, that was not to be.
She was the oldest ship in the Royal Navy’s active fleet when she was paid off 28 August 2014 after 32 years’ service and will not be replaced until HMS Queen Elizabeth is formally commissioned in May 2017.
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 served as an LPH after that, only operating helicopters. The last of the 1980- era Invincible-class of 20,000-ton harrier-carriers, she was to be kept as a museum ship but that fell through and the Crown sold her to the Turks for £2 million.
“Rusty Lusty” left Portsmouth for the breakers this week following a career spanning 900,000 miles.