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Liverpool’s ‘Lusty’ Valentine Marks Changing Times for Aircraft-Carriers

15th February 2013
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Liverpool’s ‘Lusty’ Valentine Marks Changing Times for Aircraft-Carriers

#AircraftCarriers – The Royal Nay's last 'Invincible' aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious (R06) affectionately known by her crew as 'Lusty', which these days serves as a helicopter commando-carrier, docked on St. Valentine's Day at Liverpool Cruise Terminal, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported, during her five-day city courtesy call, she is to be open to the public this weekend. The call to Merseyside could be her last as the 22,000 displacement tonnes vessel is due to pay off in early 2014. She was launched in 1978 from Swan Hunter on the Tyne and over the next 32 years the 209m long vessel has served an illustrious career including her role in carrying 'Harrier' VSTOL jump jets.

The Portsmouth based HMS Illustrious is one of four Royal Navy core amphibious vessels, and in her place are a pair of Queen Elizabeth class 65,000 displacement tonnes aircraft –carriers currently under construction. However until delivered, HMS Ocean (L12) a helicopter carrier of 21,500 tonnes will replace Illustrious, after completion of a £65m refit at Devonport Royal Dockyard early next year.

 

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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