Written by Celso P. Santos exclusively for SouthFront; Edited by Astroguy
Britain’s last working aircraft carrier is to be sold for scrap after schemes to save her for the nation as a floating museum or attraction fell through, according to The Telegraph (2016/05/06).
Scrap dealers are being asked to bid to “recycle” the retired HMS Illustrious, said the Ministry of Defense.
The announcement effectively ends hope the 22,000-ton vessel, which was Britain’s only aircraft carrier when it retired in 2014, can be saved.
At least three cities submitted proposals to try to preserve the 689 ft-long vessel, but each fell through because of the scale of the undertaking.
The vessel, which was rushed in to service for the Falklands War and went on to sail 900,000 miles around the world on deployments, will be sold before the autumn.
David Rogers, vice chairman of the HMS Illustrious Association, said: “It’s a very sad day, but this was almost inevitable. She was probably built to last 20 years and she lasted for 32. Keeping her would be an enormous cost.”
The ship was involved in the Bosnian, Iraq and Sierra Leone conflicts and also helped to evacuate Brits during the Lebanon war in 2006. She was also involved in efforts to distribute relief in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. Mr. Rogers, who served on the ship in 1982 and 1986, said: “Certainly the times I was on here, there was something almost unique about the camaraderie on the ship.”
The vessel, known affectionately as Lusty, is likely to follow its sister carriers and be sent to Turkey for scrap. HMS Ark Royal was scrapped for £2.9m in 2013 and HMS Invincible fetched around £2m in 2011.
A MoD spokeswoman 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 no suitable bidder has come forward.
“While it is a difficult decision, we have announced an open competition for the recycling of HMS Illustrious, while remaining open to heritage options.”
Defense sources said the MoD would still consider bids to save her, but at present “with all other options exhausted, recycling is the only remaining viable option for the disposal of the ship.”
When the warship retired in 2014 the MoD said it was examining at least three strong bids to save the vessel.
Hull City Council had hoped to turn it into a floating maritime museum docked in the city as part of its role as UK city of culture for 2017.
Businesses in Portsmouth had expressed interest in turning Illustrious into a conference centre and venue in the city, while a Southampton firm unveiled ambitious designs to turn her into a yacht. Gibraltar had also expressed interest and there were rumors Illustrious could be a helicopter port on the Thames.
But the size of the warship and the amount needed to maintain her are understood to have defeated all the bids.
The Navy was left without carriers after the 2010 defense cuts. The first of the Navy’s new carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, will enter service in 2018.