HMS Illustrious is to be sold for scrap after schemes to preserve her for the nation have now been abandoned.

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.”

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.


  1. The Government did put it out to tender but not enough interest , unfortunately it was inevitable as it costs the tax payer a lot of money for her to stand idle and money is in short supply

  2. It is a bit of a pity she couldn’t be preserved, but the truth is in recent years quite a lot of money has gone into saving and restoring a variety of classic RN vessels and we can never retain every ship that ever served.

  3. Illustrious i am not so bothered about, but they should have done something with Invincible. The falkland war is likely to be the last ever war of the british empire/overseas territories and the carriers played such a pivotal role in it. There is no question in my mind that Invincible or Hermes (a bit late i know) should have been saved for the nation as a reminder of our history.

  4. I wouldn’t be averse to scrapping Illustrious if it were to be done in the UK where her steel can be recycled into future warships and the breakers yard properly managed with British workers benefitting from it rather than some unregulated, unsafe and poorly operated yard in an underdeveloped country where the health and safety, pay and conditions of workers are ignored for profit.

  5. Quite frankly why the MOD persisted in attempting to find a suitable buyer is beyond me. It was never going to happen. How much has this cost persisting with this flawed mentality?

  6. Typical! The Americans preserve carriers and Battle ships as part of their great Naval heritage and to inspire the next generation. Guess that’s too complicated and too patriotic for the British though!!!

  7. Absolutely no respect for history. She could have served as a post war/cold war monument in her home port and could have been a comnunity centre, hotel, trai ing centre or floatong college, to name a couple of uses for her that could have served the nation. Some arsehole in govt. and/or the MOD has made a few bob out of this

  8. Everyone fucking moaning about scraping a vessel, shut the fuck up. The steel can be recycled for other Mod projects , no point to keep this. Cost reduction in the new era folks. We didn’t keep any of the +1000 vessels that were decommissioned post 1945 big whoop. I’m more interested in where steel will come from four or new commissions, it’s not like TATA steel will be producing it.

    • Evidence would suggest otherwise. Except for the Syria campaign, overall saved money. People forget though we could refit these vessels in 6 weeks in times of war. They’re getting scraped now because of required, we would accelerate the build of Pow and commissioning of both the new ones

  9. Why scrap this lovely ship when we are struggling to patrol our coast lines . What with the brexit vote we are more than fair game for illegal immigrants. Keep the helicopters on board and then they can be used to rescue the people from sea and then flown back . Just a couple of times doing this then they would get the message. But really have we the man power to keep this ship afloat. Or again are the RNLI expected to more with help. Please some go and shake the idiots at the Mod .

  10. Absolutely mad they should have kept her as a museum in her home port of pompey as a reminder of what her sisters did for the royal navy and the UK Lusty was never the one to keep the ark was the name alone brought pride teamwork and the feeling of the spirit of the ark but as they already fucked up big time all for 2.9 million which paid Cameron the twats cronies instead of being used properly Lusty needs to represent just how useful and how important having a carrier task force is and she could have gone anywhere in the world to project that power and stop wars beginning it’s so sad Rip lusty

  11. Unfortunately there are big differences between the USA and the UK, not only in terms of budgets, but also the outlook of the public. 2012 military spending (in terms of purchase power parity) USA – $682 billion compared to the UK – $56 billion. That is quite a significant difference!! As for the outlook of the public, everywhere you go in USA – people have “proud uncle to a serving soldier in the US Army” bumper sticker on their cars, T-shirts, baseball caps – you only need to visit the theme parks of Florida where if you are in the military you get a standing ovation and round of applause from everyone in the audience prior to a show starting. The Americans are deeply patriotic, not that I’m saying us Brits are not – it just seems a whole different level across the pond. Bottom line is, if turned into a museum, would the general public of the UK visit? I would like to suggest it would be a low % of the population. You would be reliant on tourism and that would then depend on where she was moored…


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