Rust in peace, Lusty

Ex-Bri­tish flag­ship sliced open and re­cy­cled into pots and pans

Daily Mail - - News - By Larisa Brown De­fence Cor­re­spon­dent

Sent to the scrap­yard and sliced into pieces, this was once Bri­tain’s for­mi­da­ble air­craft car­rier pa­trolling the high seas.

Now the 22,000-ton for­mer flag­ship, with 32 years’ ser­vice, is to be turned into ra­zor blades and pots and pans.

The 210m long car­rier, which once had a crew of 685 sailors and was launched by Princess Mar­garet in De­cem­ber 1978, has been cut open by heavy ma­chin­ery.

HMS Il­lus­tri­ous, known as ‘Lusty’, sailed from its home at Portsmouth Naval Base for the fi­nal time in De­cem­ber, with crowds lin­ing the har­bour walls to say their farewells. Ad­mi­ral Sir Jonathon Band, for­mer First Sea Lord and com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of Il­lus­tri­ous, said it was a ‘sad day’ at the time.

It had seen ac­tion in the Falk­lands con­flict and sup­ported Bri­tish forces in Afghanistan, as well as serv­ing in the Bos­nian and Sierra Leone con­flicts.

But pho­tographed at the week­end at a de­mo­li­tion yard in Aliaga, western Turkey, the last work­ing air­craft car­rier is re­duced to one last there­after sec­­ing­will be strippedIn noth­ingjust two down­left months,at and all, turned into ev­ery­thing from bridge foun­da­tions to cook­ing uten­sils.

For­mally de­com­mis­sioned in 2014, the In­vin­ci­ble-class car­rier – the last of its kind – was sold for £2.1mil­lion to Turk­ish com­pany Leyal­firm has Ship been Re­cy­cling dis­man­tlingLtd. The the war­ship, used as a land­ing plat­form for fighter jets, for months. The sale came de­spite pro­pos­als to turn the car­rier into a float­ing ho­tel, mu­seum, or even a UK cen­tre for power­boats. Its de­par­ture has left the Royal Navy with­out a fixed-wing air­craft car­rier un­til 2020, when the next gen­er­a­tion of £6.2bil­lion Queen el­iz­a­beth-class car­ri­ers be­come op­er­a­tional.

The 65,000-ton HMS Queen el­iz­a­beth will be com­mis­sioned later this year, but will only be launched along with HMS Prince of Wales in three years’ time. Last week a re­port warned a short­age of Royal Navy sailors could put Bri­tain’s new car­ri­ers at ‘con­sid­er­able risk’. The Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice re­port said plans to have the two largest ever UK war­ships sea­wor­thy by the end of 2020 could be de­layed fur­ther due to un­der­staffing and ‘tech­ni­cal is­sues’.

Sad sight: For­mer flag­ship is re­duced to one sliced-open sec­tion, as work­ers in Turkey strip air­craft car­rier down to re­cy­cle it into uten­sils and bridge foun­da­tions

In ac­tion: Il­lus­tri­ous served in the Falk­lands con­flict

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