The Royal Navy’s former aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious left Portsmouth for the last time on Thursday following a career spanning 32 years and more than 900,000 nautical miles.
With the aid of tugs, Illustrious set sail for a ship breaking facility in Turkey where it will be dismantled.
The second of the Navy’s three Invincible-class aircraft carriers, Illustrious was built by Swan Hunter shipbuilders on the Tyne and launched by Princess Margaret in December 1978. The 22,000-tonne Illustrious was commissioned in 1982 after completing a successful mission during Falklands War. During its service the ship took part in a range of operations until 2014, including evacuating Britons from the Lebanon in 2006 and delivering humanitarian aid after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines in 2013.
The Illustrious will now be recycled by Leyal Ship Recycling Ltd following a two-year open competition seeking to retain part of all of the ship for heritage purposes in the UK. While a number of bids were received, at the end none proved viable.
The departure of Illustrious from Portsmouth makes way for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s biggest ever warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, sometime next year.