Former light carrier HMS Illustrious has departed Portsmouth for the final time.

The carrier was sold for scrap in a £2.1 million deal after schemes to preserve her for the nation were abandoned. It is understood that three cities submitted proposals to try to preserve the vessel but each fell through.

Following the retirement of her Harriers in 2010, Illustrious operated as one of two Royal Navy helicopter carriers. By 2014 she was the oldest ship in the Royal Navy’s active fleet, having 32 years’ service.

An 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.”

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“Over three decades Illustrious set the highest standards for service that the Royal Navy will continue with HMS Queen Elizabeth when she arrives into Portsmouth next year.

Backed by a rising defence budget, our new aircraft carriers will lead a growing Royal Navy as Britain steps up to defend our country and our interests.”

Captain Jerry Kyd, former Commanding Officer of HMS Illustrious and current Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, said:

“Lusty provided a world-class service to the Royal Navy and we bid her goodbye with fond memories. As she leaves Portsmouth I’m looking forward to the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will ensure that we remain a global maritime power.”

The ship was sold to Turkish company LEYAL Ship Recycling Ltd for around £2 million. Both Invincible and Ark Royal, the sister ships of Illustrious, were also recycled.


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Just feels so wrong that a ship paid for and maintained by UK taxpayer’s money is handed over to the Turks to make profit.

We should have a dedicated ship recycling dock where British workers are employed recycling British owned ships and subs. Materials would then already be in the UK for using in new steel, copper or whatever.

Bet we are paying the Turks to buy back the steel …


What feels wrong to me is the fact there is no helicopter carrier replacement planned to replace her and Ocean (a 70,000t Aircraft Carrier playing one shouldn’t count). With the price of scrap as it is paying British workers who have luxuries like a decent wage, respirators, harnesses, sick pay etc. wouldn’t be viable. Then you have the things that would increase costs here, such as not being allowed to let any nasty chemicals in the drinking water and not being allowed to just randomly set fires to dubious materials instead of proper disposal. I’m all for keeping as much… Read more »


No, the QE Class isn’t an Aircraft Carrier playing a Helicopter Carrier. QE *is* a Helicopter Carrier. A big one, yes. But still a Helicopter Carrier.




Yes very good. But your point is exactly?