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Last British Operational Aircraft Carrier Sold to Recycling Company

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The last British Illustrious-class aircraft carrier, which recently started its final sailing, has been sold to a Turkish recycling company.

Last British Operational Aircraft Carrier Sold to Recycling Company

The Illustrious started its service in the Royal Navy in 1982, after the Falklands War (Photo: PA Wire / Steve Parsons)

The last British Illustrious-class aircraft carrier has left Plymouth and started its final sailing, the BBC public service broadcaster reported on Wednesday. The vessel was sold to a Turkish recycling company.

According to the British Defense Ministry, the aircraft carrier was sold for £2 million (more than $2.5 million). Earlier, the British authorities assumed that the Illustrious may be kept in memory of the Invincible-class aircraft carriers, which are currently out of production.

The ship was launched in 1978. This light aircraft carrier was designed to carry short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft and helicopters. In August 2014, the vessel was removed from the British Royal Navy after 32 years of service. Former First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff of the UK, Admiral Jock Slater, was the first commanding officer on the Illustrious.

“I am very sad to see the last of the Illustrious-class ships, going on recycling,” Slater told BBC.

The 22,000-ton ship, also known as the Lusty, took part in military operations in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone. Currently, the UK is building aircraft carriers of a new generation, the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales, at shipyards in Rosyth, Scotland, which should replace aircraft carriers of the old type. But, according to the British Navy, the new vessels will be ready no sooner than 10 years later. And all this time, the UK will have to stay without any aircraft carriers.

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It’s always a mystery that the country that invented the aircraft carrier and all the major innovations to them never really knew how to handle them or use them correctly. The Americans invented squad when it comes to carriers, other then that bigger is better, large airgroups kick ass and how to use them to their best advantage.

The Invincible class really was a poor carrier design, too small to handle anything but a small number of Harriers and helicopters, and nothing else, but at least it still gave the Royal Navy some carrier ability after decades of run down, neglect and downright hostility in Whitehall to carrier aviation. The Falkland war saved them from being sold off or scrapped in the 80’s and reversed the trend. Which is now in the other extreme. The Royal Navy now absolutely has to have the Queen Elizabeth class, even if it means that they will be the two sole surviving operational surface vessels in the RN, as the rest has to be scrapped or sold off to pay for them.


Agree, assume resources was the real issue – being broke after 1945 – and innovating but without capital/ industrial means to follow through on it. The UK’s struggle to maintain their military power without resources, and being underdeveloped before active service is sadly evident in this video:



Hahaha, who is this supposed to fool? Pretty sure Turkey will have a ‘brand new’ carrier in a few years. $2.5 million is a joke. It would bring in that as a museum yearly anywhere in the UK. Heck even as an artificial reef is would be more valuable.


what are the turks going to do with this junk? target practice for greek air force?

Marek Pejović

It seems the Chinese are in process of getting their second aircraft carrier. And Turkey sure needs an appropriate gift to snuggle up to Shanghai Security Organization.

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