HMS Illustrious is to be sold for scrap in a £2.1 million deal after schemes to preserve her for the nation have now been abandoned.

It is understood that three cities submitted proposals to try to preserve the vessel but each fell through.

Illustrious is the last of the Invincible Class carriers. Her sisters Invincible and Ark Royal were sold for £3m and torn apart at Leyal Ship Recycling and Dismantling near Aliaga, Turkey.

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.”

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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The rush to decommission her along with the Sea Harriers was short sighted, far too hasty – indeed almost obscene.


What is obscene is the under-manning of the RN. The decommissioning of Illustrious is a consequence of that because, unfortunately, tragically and obscenely, where else is RN going to get the personel to crew Queen Elizabeth other than be decommissioning her?


£2m is so paltry as to feel almost insulting.


Cost of the scrap value of hard worked and used metal; she is pretty much a floating empty hulk now.
The RN needs crews more than hulls at the moment, it’s crazy.

Steven K

Wtf I could have bought that and stored it away for a rainy day when the ruskies come. Bargain


It isn’t just the cost of the scrap value of the ship but also the cost of safety work to the hull while she is doing nothing.
The UK has loads of preserved naval and other ships around the coast.