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HMS Illustrious decommissioned in Portsmouth

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.


Farewell to HMS Illustrious


HMS Illustrious company on parade at decommissioning ceremony at Portsmouth Naval Base http://t.co/OdHy5RMl02


The last @royalnavy Invincible-class aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious decommissions following her 32 year career http://t.co/l7ze1c8BYu


Carrier HMS Illustrious decommissioned after 32 years

HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious is being decommissioned today Credit: Rachel Hepworth

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.

HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious was commissioned on 20th June 1982

The helicopter carrier HMS Ocean will take over the responsibilities of HMS Illustrious and her crew.

HMS Illustrious and HMS Ocean
HMS Illustrious and HMS Ocean Credit: Royal Navy

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.

HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious returned home to port for the last time in July

“Bringing the ship into her home port for the last time was a poignant moment but the welcome we received was tremendous. I’m extremely proud of what the ship has achieved and about what my team has achieved.

"I have mixed feelings but all with a complete optimism for the future given what the navy has got coming, Ocean is back out after an extensive refit and we were at HMS Queen Elizabeth's naming just a few weeks ago."

– Captain Mike Utley, the ship’s 18th and last Commanding Officer - Speaking in July 2014

HMS Illustrious to be decommissioned

HMS Illustrious is being replaced by HMS Ocean Credit: ITV Meridian

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.


The end of an era for shipbuilding in Portsmouth

Centuries of shipbuilding came to an end in Portsmouth today. A section of the last aircraft carrier to be built there was moved out of the dockyards, to begin its journey north to Scotland for completion.

BAE Systems, announced in November last year that it was moving its operations to Glasgow resulting in the loss of more than 900 jobs.

In June, it was announced 100 roles would be saved with the MoD awarding BAE a £70 million pound contract to maintain the Royal Navy's Type 45 Destroyers.

Bids to take over Portsmouth shipyard are currently being submitted to the Ministry of Defence.

Richard Slee was in Portsmouth today to witness the end of an era. Here is his report.

Shipbuilders mark an 'immensely proud moment'

Aircraft carrier section
Staff at BAE in Portsmouth have transferred part of the aircraft carrier onto a barge Credit: ITV Meridian

A milestone has arrived today - as the end of shipbuilding in Portsmouth draws closer.

A large section of the aircraft carrier, Prince of Wales, is being moved onto a large barge ready for its departure for Scotland next week. More than nine hundred workers have lost their jobs, but BAE says most of them are being re-deployed.

Paul Bowsher from BAE Systems, said it was an honour to be involved in the building of the nation's aircraft carriers.

Section of aircraft carrier prepares to leave Portsmouth

ITV Meridian
HMS Prince of Wales under construction Credit: ITV Meridian

A milestone will be reached in Portsmouth today as a large section of the aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is loaded out of the dock ready for its departure for Scotland tomorrow. It also heralds the start of the end of shipbuilding in the city. BAE is stopping its operations in Portsmouth affecting more than nine hundred workers.

MOD Police recruits complete firearms course

A dozen newly qualified MOD Police officers have completedthe first-ever Initial Firearms Officer Course to be held at the base.

During the six-week course the students carried out real-lifescenarios in the base and at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport.

The first two weeks saw them learn how to handle the MP7 orSA80 weapons, plus tasers. The remaining weeks consisted of tactical training,interceptions, vehicle drills and dealing with armed threats.

Recruits taking part in firearms training Credit: Royal Navy

"The course has been really good. After thefirst two weeks everyone qualified on either the MP7 or SA80 plus the taser. Weinclude real-life scenario assessments and, as in real life, it changes duringthe exercise. It has worked really well.”

– Sergeant Mick Flynn who taught the course
Recruits taking part in firearms training Credit: Royal Navy

"The course is very intensive and is both mentally and physically demanding and has many challenging aspects that require the ability to react in a professional and legal manner to ensure a positive outcome.”

– HMNB Portsmouth Inspector Michelle Mahony
Recruits taking part in firearms training Credit: Royal Navy
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