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Former Aircraft Carrier HMS ‘Lusty’ Open to Public Following Valentine Call

13th February 2013
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Former Aircraft Carrier HMS ‘Lusty’ Open to Public Following Valentine Call

#AircraftCarrier- HMS Illustrious (R06) the Royal Navy's helicopter commando carrier is due to arrive in Liverpool on St. Valentine's Day and be open to the public next weekend (16-17 February), as part of a five-day call, writes Jehan Ashmore.

For more than three decades the former aircraft-carrier (equipped with Harrier jump-jets) has served the Royal Navy, however she is to pay-off in 2014, to make way for next generation aircraft-carriers.

Affectionately known as 'Lusty' to her crew, she is due berth alongside Liverpool Cruise Liner Terminal tomorrow at around 2pm, opposite the famous Liverpool waterfront skyline. There will be free public tours during Saturday and Sunday (10am – 4pm) noting the latest time to board is 3pm.

She forms as one of four core ships of the Royal Navy's amphibious fleet, they are the helicopter carriers HMS Ocean and assault ships HMS Albion and Bulwark, the latter is the flagship.

HMS Illustrious current role is as a High Readiness Helicopter and Commando Carrier and she is the last of the 'Invincible' class aircraft carriers commissioned for the Royal Navy during the 1970's.

As previously mentioned, the class were of course equipped with the revolutionary 'Harrier II' jump-jet VSTOL aircraft built by British Aerospace/McDonnell Douglas for the RAF, until these aircraft were retired in 2010. These days she conveys a range of helicopters, Merlin, Sea King, Apaches and Lynx for the Royal Marine Commandos.

Her sisters, the decommissioned leadship HMS Invincible (RO5) was scrapped in 2005 and HMS Ark Royal (R07), the final of the class launched in 1981 made a farewell tour around Britain in 2011. Last year it was announced that she too would be scrapped.

Published in Naval Visits
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Naval Visits focuses on forthcoming courtesy visits by foreign navies from our nearest neighbours, to navies from European Union and perhaps even those navies from far-flung distant shores.

In covering these Naval Visits, the range of nationality arising from these vessels can also be broad in terms of the variety of ships docking in our ports.

The list of naval ship types is long and they perform many tasks. These naval ships can include coastal patrol vessels, mine-sweepers, mine-hunters, frigates, destroyers, amphibious dock-landing vessels, helicopter-carriers, submarine support ships and the rarer sighting of submarines.

When Naval Visits are made, it is those that are open to the public to come on board, provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate up close and personal, what these look like and what they can do and a chance to discuss with the crew.

It can make even more interesting for visitors when a flotilla arrives, particularly comprising an international fleet, adding to the sense of curiosity and adding a greater mix to the type of vessels boarded.

All of this makes Naval Visits a fascinating and intriguing insight into the role of navies from abroad, as they spend time in our ports, mostly for a weekend-long call, having completed exercises at sea.

These naval exercises can involve joint co-operation between other naval fleets off Ireland, in the approaches of the Atlantic, and way offshore of the coasts of western European countries.

In certain circumstances, Naval Visits involve vessels which are making repositioning voyages over long distances between continents, having completed a tour of duty in zones of conflict.

Joint naval fleet exercises bring an increased integration of navies within Europe and beyond. These exercises improve greater co-operation at EU level but also internationally, not just on a political front, but these exercises enable shared training skills in carrying out naval skills and also knowledge.

Naval Visits are also reciprocal, in that the Irish Naval Service, has over the decades, visited major gatherings overseas, while also carrying out specific operations on many fronts.

Ireland can, therefore, be represented through these ships that also act as floating ambassadorial platforms, supporting our national interests.

These interests are not exclusively political in terms of foreign policy, through humanitarian commitments, but are also to assist existing trade and tourism links and also develop further.

Equally important is our relationship with the Irish diaspora, and to share this sense of identity with the rest of the World.

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