The aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious stood down today after thirty-two years as a flagship in the Royal Navy.
The Portsmouth-based helicopter and commando carrier has clocked up nine hundred thousand miles on operations across the world. HMS Illustrious, based in Portsmsouth, was built on the Tyne and launched by Princess Margaret in December 1978.
She and her crew have played an important role in the Royal Navy's operations around the world. Rachel Hepworth joined sailors past and present to bid her farewell.
The Royal Navy's aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious is to be decommissioned today in a special ceremony. The Portsmouth-based helicopter and commando carrier has clocked up 900,000 miles on operations across the world. She has been in active service for thirty-two years.
HMS Illustrious was built by Swan Hunter shipbuilders on the Tyne and launched by Princess Margaret in December 1978. Construction of the carrier was underway when the Falklands War broke out - completion of the project was speeded up. The carrier was deployed so quickly that her commissioning ceremony took place on 20th June 1982, while she was on her way to the conflict.
The helicopter carrier HMS Ocean will take over the responsibilities of HMS Illustrious and her crew.
HMS Illustrious helped maintain the no-fly zone in Bosnia during the 1990s. In 1998 she operated in the Arabian Gulf and carried out a similar role in southern Iraq. In 2000 she led a task group aimed at restoring stability and peace to Sierra Leone in West Africa. After the 9/11 attacks in the USA, HMS Illustrious played an important part in the 'war on terror' in Afghanistan - staying in the region for several months.
In 2006, during the Israel - Lebanon crisis, HMS Illustrious helped in the operation to evacuate British citizens from Beirut.
In 2013 HMS Illustrious was diverted from other duties to assist with disaster relief in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.
Hundreds of people are expected in Portsmouth today to watch the official decomission ceremony for the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. It's been in active service for 32 years and is the oldest ship in the Royal Navy's active fleet. Illustrious is being replaced by HMS Ocean which has just undergone a sixty five million pound refit.
Royal Navy helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious has just paid a routine visit to Lisbon after completing Exercise Deep Blue.
Exercise Deep Blue was an Anti-Submarine Warfare exercise involving surface, submarine and air participants from the UK, France and the Netherlands.
For an intensive two week period, a multitude of exercise scenarios tested, and proved, the capabilities of all units working together as a multi-national task group.
Crews were able to enjoy the fantastic sights and sounds of Lisbon after their busy work schedule!
Video. The future of HMS Illustrious is under discussion. The Portsmouth based warship is about to be decommissioned. She could be used to promote trade and for humanitarian work.
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They've spent 152 days at sea - sacrificing christmas with their families to help others in desperate need of vital aid.
But today, sailors on board HMS Illustrious finally returned to Portsmouth to a rapturous welcome.
The vessel was due to return in December but was diverted to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan to help with the relief effort.
Although it's a month later than planned, today's homecoming was an emotional reunion for the families of the 650 crew on board. Richard Jones reports.
Christmas at last for sailors and their families.
Thousands of people have gathered on the dockside at Portsmouth Naval Base to welcome home the carrier HMS Illustrious.
The ship was due home before Christmas but was diverted to the Philippines to help deliver aid in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.
So for many of the crew and their families, Christmas celebrations will this weekend!
Illustrious spent three weeks in the typhoon-affected region delivering supplies and carrying out repairs to buildings.
The crew believe they were able to help at least 40,000 people, many in some of the most isolated areas.
She has been away since August and will now undergo essential maintenance before going back to sea later in the year.