HMS Illustrious is to sail for Turkey on Wednesday, December the 7th.
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.”
Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin 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 all options have now been exhausted.
It is with a sense of pride for her and her crews’ achievements that we say goodbye to the ship, and we look forward to the arrival in Portsmouth of the UK’s next generation of aircraft carriers.”
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.
Mike Utley, former Commanding Officer on HMS Illustrious, said:
“Lusty provided a world-class service to the Royal Navy for over three decades. We will bid her farewell with a heavy heart but in the knowledge that everything has been done to find a use for her.
As the former aircraft carrier gets ready to leave Portsmouth, so we can look to the future and the arrival of the new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, which will ensure that the Royal Navy continues to be a pre-eminent maritime power in the modern world.”