HMS Illustrious is to be sold for scrap after schemes to preserve her for the nation as a floating museum fell through.

Scrap dealers are being asked to bid to “recycle” the retired HMS Illustrious. The announcement is expected to end hopes the carrier can be saved. 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, and will not be replaced until HMS Queen Elizabeth is in service. It was originally announced that Illustrious would be preserved for the nation, this now seems unlikely.

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.”

The notice, which can be found here, states:

“The Disposal Services Authority (DSA) is inviting expressions of interest for the sale of the former HMS Illustrious for recycling. She was decommissioned in 2014.

All parties interested in acquiring the vessel should note that a Bank Guarantee of ยฃ2 Million will be required by the DSA and will not bereleased until the recycling of the vessel is nearing completion. Viewing of the vessel is due to take place in June (date to be confirmed).”

While this is a shame, it’s understandable as most believe the money required to run the vessel as a museum while maintaining her is simply not there.

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I’ve always wondered, where is she now? Is she in Portsmouth still being manned and maintained buy the RN, and can she still sail under her own power?

andrew reeves

she would need a reactivation proceedure which could be done in around 8 weeks, recrewing could be chieved by transfer from r.n. reserves and the fleet of sailors with a history of having srved on lusty the ark royal and ,invincible.

Adrian Flitcroft

She is laid up in Portsmouth in Fareham Creek awaiting disposal. She is unmanned & will have been stripped of all useable equipment.



These so called ‘aircraft carriers’ were an embarrassment to the UK & RN.

A floating reminder of managed post WWII decline by gutless 3rd rate politicians.

Respect goes out to the crews, they did their very best with what they were given, but what they were given was embarrassing given the history of the RN.

andrew reeves

the shame lies squarely with the muddled p halfwits at the treasury/m.o.d who don’t have a clue what they need or howto operate the royal navy

andrew reeves

i as in the falklands and i assure you now they did exactly what they were sent to do. and i for one are glad of it.

Simon Harlow

It is such a shame, she is worth saving, maybe do something, like what the americans did with intrepid.

UK Defence Journal

No one would put up the money.

Simon Harlow

I know and that i what is so sad.

Toby Noskwith

HMG could have bothered to put up the money.

Simon Harlow

I totally agree, I mean compared to the Army and the RAF the Navy have very little preserved.

andrew reeves

ocean should be kept, with illustrious as her replacement and bristol should be re comisioned and returned to the fleet. there’s no point bleating on about a shortage of destroyers when we have on being used as a training ship,

UK Defence Journal

Wouldn’t you rather they kept that money to pay for actual warships, rather than museums? With respect, I’d rather we properly funded the new carriers.

Toby Noskwith

I would rather we did both.

Simon Harlow

That is a good point, but whatever the right or wrongs somebody should of saved her.

Toby Noskwith

But I take the point entirely – the state of affairs means there is only one choice and we can agree which one it must be.

Ray Lovie

It would be good have her preserved for the next generation as museum

Mark Whitehead

We are lacking in a substantial Navy! I think it should go under refit and carry on service! It would be an advantage to keep more than too loose!

Mark Whitehead

And the Government should fund this instead of sending money abroad to countries who would more than likely not help us if the roles/ situations were reversed!

Bungy Williamson

Mark Whitehead get real. If i sent you to war with old out dated kit you would be the first to complain

andrew reeves

we were sent to thefalklands in ships not fit for purpose, the bulwark in bits to keep hermes at sea. and blake in mothballs the county class’s antrim an glamorgan were floating bombs the type 21’s unable to take the rough seas secat systems which could have been replaced by a couple of cooks with peashooters.

Kai Humphreys

This is a disgrace she is the last ship that served in the falklands war left she deserves to be a museum not some foreign Turkish scrapyard which tragically claimed her 2 sister ships Invincible and Ark Royal

UK Defence Journal

Unfortunately the money just isn’t there, no company wants to run a museum this expensive.

Simeon Hawkins

The war was over by the time she arrived, played no active part. Get rid of it as it’s currently hiding the disgrace that is the deactivated 23 and 45 behind it!

Kai Humphreys

It would also be nice to keep one of our old aircraft carriers so when the new Queen Elizabeth carriers come in we could see a mixture of old and new carriers

Simeon Hawkins

There you go, now scrap it and address the state of the active fleet! If you wanted something to commemorate the war you should’ve fought to save HMS Plymouth!

Dave Wooding

Simeon Hawkins
How true is that
I was lucky enough to get board HMS Plymouth when she was docked at Plymouth as a museum.
Plymouth city council are a bloody disgrace!
She was the last war ship to be built at Devonport !
Yet meant bugger all to them and let her go !

Vic parody

And the surrender of the Falklands was signed on board …..disgrace that she was allowed to be scrapped

andrew reeves


Chris Power

She wasn’t in the Falklands.

andrew reeves


Philip David Hall

Put her on the Thames , Surely enough tourists would pay for her upkeep ,

Gary Judkins

keep it or give it to ME

andrew reeves


William Richardson

Thanks to our government shame on you

It’s not the fault of the government, the issue lies at there being no commercial viability in retaining i.

Kirk J Shepherd

They’re building two MASSIVE aircraft carriers where’s the shame?

Lee Jeffrey

They’ll probably be as unreliable as the type 45 so I’d say pretty shameful.

Lee, come on, you can’t just make up nonsense like that to justify a point. You’re an adult.

Krishna Sastry

Why not sell it? Could make some money instead of scrapping it…

Tom Perry Davies

It is being sold, for scrap

Krishna Sastry

I meant selling it to some other country…

andrew reeves

give it to another commonwealth country.

Bobby Abernethy

Probably greater value in the metal: a ski-jump carrier is a very specialised beast, and there’s not many countries that could use it even if they could afford it.

UK Defence Journal

No one wants it.

What was the asking price??

andrew reeves

ยฃ5 or a donation to the donkey trust

Gerry Moar

Anyone buying it would have to be mad. The RN strip out the engines, power plant, etc. All they’d get is a 32 year old hulk, that would cost millions each year BEFORE you replace the stuff the RN take out.

Duncan Halford

Is there nothing left inside her Gerry? I thought she complete inside? How could you even hope to make a museum if she was not?

andrew reeves

she has been de munitioned, drained of corrosive materials kept dry inside by de humidifing equipment. air wing equipment has been stripped out any spares usable for ships operating under foreign flags such as the type 22’s in use elsewhere arebagged, tagged and shore power.
new fresh water, a crew, re storing fuelling and she’d almost be good to go.

Louis Reay

Why not keep it in service and have it patrol the seas around England ?

Tom Perry Davies

Costs and inefficiency mostly

andrew reeves

its obvious that decomisioning hms ocean will leave a hole in the royal navy’s ability to fulfil its task obligations, prior to oceans multi million pound refit her role was covered by illustrious,the illustrious, thanks to another stupid decision by the mo.d to retire the harrier instead of upgrading the harriers tot he modern upgraded specifications made to the u.s, marine corps harriers made her position in the fleet untenable. operational cost of the’lusty compared to ocean are not unreasonable it should not go for scrap it should be replaned with the chinook and merlin helecopterand put to sea again.

Louis Reay

Then maybe you some sort of practise ? Keep it within a city and have recruits train on it ? Just a shame to scrap something as cool as that

Louis Reay

Or tell them I will buy it and I can have it in my back garden, that’s if the council will allow that hahahaha

andrew reeves


Mark Turner

We apparently barely have enough sailors to crew the new carriers, let alone old ones!

Louis Reay

National service ?

andrew reeves

never going to happen

UK Defence Journal

Sadly Louis that idea isn’t feasible. There are already vessels more suited to training recruits that don’t incur such high costs. Also, there are air bases in England (Scotland and Wales too!) that are able to perform aviation related tasks around UK shores at a fraction of the cost.

Callum Sweeney


James L. R. Chappell

That was strange UK Defence Journal the comment thread vanished as I was about to ask why Joe’s comment was deemed in bad taste, could you please elaborate from your rules why it is so as I could not find any rules on the page.

Dave Williams

Did not David Cameron PROMISE to save it for the nation ?

Richard 'Diki' Day


Tom Myzak

No he didn’t, he promised to build 2 new carriers, which we are doing

UK Defence Journal


Adam Willsmore

A chuffing disgrace.Probably off to Turkey ffs where most of our ships have been scrapped.

Luke Napier

A sad story but I think the money involved to keep her in a museum state would be astronomical.

John Buckley

“Nice” to see we are making everybody else rich while scrapping ourselves into oblivion. A more ridiculous nation, I have never known in all my life.

Edison Mite-Roman

Shameful !

James Livingston

Maggie will be turning in her grave!

UK Defence Journal

Steady on

Kai Humphreys


Wayne Houghton


Rob Collins

We could club together? It’d be great for parties…

David Carlin


Richard 'Diki' Day

Will be very expensive…..there is no one that will take on the project. Funding would have to come from HLF and private donors who are willing to accept there will be no profit in it

andrew reeves

even in a museum state, preservation, and mooring/docking etc shoe’d go for scrap anyway she’d cost a fortune whatever you did with her.if any of her steel is reusable i’d like to see it go the yards tasked with building type 26 or 31 ships,. for the future

Ross Tackle Berrey

I bet china have her


Maybe people should remember it was these aircraft carriers that kept the Falklands in the hands of the islanders. To say they are an embarrassment is disrespecting their achievements and their crews let’s not forget the humanitarian relief they gave

Martin Symes

I thought it was going to Hull for some culture exhibition, as there was talk of her going to Pompey as a museum ship with support from the Fleet Air Arm museum. Might pay to sail her up the Thames and park her outside Westminster as a reminder to MPs of our once mighty navy!

andrew reeves

excellent idea

Jason Bartlett

Money to turn it into a museum should come from the lottery, they fund other English heritage and countless so called art and theatre projects why not this.

Mark Cresswell

Shocker!!!!!! Not! Why can we not scrap our own ships instead of sending them to Turkey. What man at the top is getting a back hander.

Jason Owens

Instead of going off on one do some reading on the subject – no back handers involved.

Manpower costs, specialist manpower capacity, lack of facilities, environmental considerations, recycling facilities, etc, etc…

However if you think it is a real shame and “someone” should do something about it – why not you?
Set up a business case, cost out the infrastructure and manpower then pootle off to the bank for a chat!

andrew reeves

bae boss, they get all the contracts

Ray Lovie

Near most American city’s with links have some sort of maritime museum …..USS ALABAMA in mobile is an example there’s even a Blackbird AND a ww2 boat and other militarilia

All we have is Alliance

Glen McAllister

Turn it into a museum dedicated to the Royal Navy

Luke Braithwaite

I just hope the 2nd of the queen elizabeth class is renamed ark royal

Richard 'Diki' Day

Why? The name Prince of Wales has so much history behind it….

Luke Braithwaite

Thats a fair point but so does ark royal

UK Defence Journal

It will not be

Richard 'Diki' Day

The namesake for the ships are important and the QE is to honour Queen Elizabeth I and Prince of Wales honours the title (not the person)…..i have always said that our capital ships should be named after royals. If the UK builds a new class of LHDs then HMS Ark Royal will/may return.

Luke Braithwaite

I read somewhere the prince of wales has been asked if he would give the honor up and apparently he said he wouldnt mind

Allan Southern

Rather she was called Warspite.

Jonathan Dunster

Scandalous decision that R09 will not be named Ark Royal

andrew reeves

or victory

Ian Allen

Wouldn’t surprise me if the bought a Spanish or French LHD to appease them for Gibraltar or for something else equally stupid.

UK Defence Journal

PoW will not be renamed Ark Royal.

Jonathan Dunster

UK Defence Journal why not?

andrew reeves


Luke Braithwaite

Ok sorry ?

Neil Dean

I’m sorry but if we can keep Nelsons flagship, Has Bristol and an old Submarine in Portsmouth then surely we can keep Illustrious, after all its the Invincible class Aircraft Carrier is who we have to thank for winning the Falklands. So maybe we should keep it as a floating museum, with Falkland spec Harriers and Sea Kings on the flight dec as a fitting tribute to those who lost there life in 1982.

Simon White

Would be a heck of a dive wreck of the Cornish coast. A few warships have come close and would generate tourism income.

Philip David Hall

Ark Royal should of been saved, it’s a shame non of these ships are being saved ,

Tom Hird

So much history going to be scrapped. Least the new generation are more than capable of carrying on ??


What a shame, the government should step in and pay for this and retain it as a public piece, it doesn’t have to be financially viable, after all the opera and other performing arts are not financially viable and yet huge amount of government money.

We have a proud navy history and yet there is less than a handful of the famous ships left preserved for future generations to understand the history of their country.

andrew reeves

donate it to the australian/canadian/ kiwi navy’s in recognition of their service to the u.k. in the past.

Nick Sellers

Surely, MOD could gift it to to ‘gib.or whoever wants it ? If that fails….so be it. But why not let people try to make a go of it ? X

David Bird

It’s a warship….let’s not get too sentimental

Thomas Baron

Do the Indians not want it. Hermes is getting a bit old and looking for a replacement

Ray Lovie

Not base her in med for fakeugees

Derek Ansell

It should remain in service. A refit would make it an extremely effective warship and an asset to the fleet.

UK Defence Journal

Sadly not, the hull life of the vessel is such that keeping her at sea would be far more expensive. Keeping her in service as a helicopter carrier would be futile.

Derek Ansell

Either way we will still require smaller aircraft carriers and helicopter carriers for a balanced fleet. Given how we have downgraded the RN this is probably highly unlikely albeit ill advised.

UK Defence Journal

Sorry, I disagree.

David Mullen

Give it to Gibraltar they would look after it and turn it into a tourist attraction

Francis Rodgers

Take her out into deep water and sink her.

Steven K

Sell it to N Korea then let the yanks sink it ๐Ÿ™‚

Tim Lewis

There are huge gaps in our maritime and aviation heritage because no one would plan ahead and put up the cash. When it’s gone it’s gone so lost to future generations. The Lottery should help out with this one.

Craig Fowler

Should station her in the Falklands with a few harriers on it and the Ocean should be stationed in Gibraltar would solve a couple of big problems there

Christopher Kent

OMG the harrier has been gone 6 years get over it

UK Defence Journal

What problems would that solve?

Craig Fowler

Put the Argies off

Chris Power

& the Sea Harrier’s been gone 10 years….

UK Defence Journal

If RAF Mount Pleasant doesn’t deter them…

Michael Coultrup

Turn it into a ferry for the isle of wight. …

Gary Phillips

Shame… I was on the Illustrious in 1986 and she is a beautiful ship.

Chris Lewis

I hope a replacement for ocean is announced sdsr 2020. Call her Ark Royal

andrew reeves

or illustrious

Jason Simpkins

prison ship ๐Ÿ™‚

Cj Leathers

I have 5$ USD is that enough to buy it?


Yes she is a warship but what differs her from the aztec, egyptian or roman empires of old, only age. in 50/1000 years people will be interested to learn of the British empire and yet nothing is left. The Falkland war was the last major naval wars (and we all hope it stays that way) and yet soon there will be nothing left to remember it. We have a patchy history with our empire, and there is a lot that we are not that proud of, but the falkland war war without a debut a war of horror. I don’t… Read more ยป

david southern

What did the British ever do for us?….
Jet engine
Computers etc.

They’ll be some comedy film in 50 years time with four well known actors blurting it out!

Philip Drury

Turn it into a floating Mosque perhaps?

andrew reeves


Andrew Sloan

How much do they expect to get from scrapping her? Would make an interesting hotel, conference centre and restaurants with possibly a sports club.. It’s certainly big enough and surely this is viable unless the MOD are making it difficult or is it just to unconventional for any of the big operators to even look at?

Sean Smart

Deserves better. She could be turned in to a musuem

UK Defence Journal

No one wants to buy it for that role.