#HMSillustrious– HMS Illustrious (RO6), the Royal Navy's sole remaining 'Invincible' class aircraft-carrier was decommissioned in a ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
She served for more than three-decades as the back-bone of the Royal Navy and in that timeframe she sailed 900,000 miles.
HMS Illustrious last month returned to her homeport of Portsmouth for her final time. Before she berthed in the Hampshire port, she met her successor at sea, HMS Ocean (L12).
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, HMS Ocean had gone for a £65m refit at Devonport Royal Dockyard. The major overhaul sees her take over duties of HMS Illustrious as the UK's on-call combat helicopter-carrier.
Launched in 1978 at Swan Hunter on the Tyne, the 22,000 tonnes HMS Illustrious would later be given her nickname 'Lusty' by her crew members. She made a farewell tour of UK ports last year, among them Liverpool. As the last of the 'Invincible' trio, she followed leadship HMS Invincible and Ark Royal.
The class were made famous for carrying 'Harrier' VSTOL jump jets that proved a vital role in the Falklands Conflict in 1982. In more recent years, the role of HMS Illustrious as an aircraft-carrier was scaled down to that of only carrying helicopters.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, HMS Illustrious visited Dublin Port in April 2013, this rare call would be the last. Only months later, she undertook an emergency humanitarian relief mission after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in December.
Both HMS Invincible and HMS Ark Royal were scrapped, the manner in which they were allowed to be disposed by the UK Ministry of Defence has caused critism from the public and there are now calls to save the 'Lusty'.
In June of this year, HMS Illustrious berthed in Rosyth next to the newbuild HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of a pair of 65,000 displacement tonnes 'QE' class aircraft-carriers. Leadship, HMS Queen Elizabeth was named at the Babcock Marine shipyard by Queen Elizabeth II.