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.
“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."
A Royal Navy ship was joined by an unexpected visitor on board last week - a young pigeon.
Steve, as he was named by crew members, was found in a hangar at the top of HMS Ocean.
There were no parents to be seen so the crew took on the pigeon’s care -including feeding him by hand - until the ship docked a few days later in Southampton.
When the ship returned to Southampton on the 19th July, one of the crew handed Steve the pigeon over to the RSPCA and the bird is now being after in Fareham.
He will continue his rehabilitation at the charity’s dedicated West Hatch wildlife centre in Taunton, from where he will be released back to the wild once he is ready.
This was certainly one of the most unusual places we’ve collected a bird from.
“The crew, especially Sam, the crew member who looked after Steve, and the captain, went above and beyond to care for this young bird who wouldn’t have survived without their help. We can’t thank them enough for their efforts.
“The future looks good for Steve - he just needs to build his strength to get ready for the wild and he can do that in our specialist aviaries now that he’s eating for himself.”
For the first time in 15 years, a Royal Navy ship has visited the West African country of Guinea.
Portsmouth-based HMS Iron Duke has just completed a four day visit to the country’s capital, Conakry, with Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Black Rover.
As the ship came alongside, a band struck up on the jetty and a reception party welcomed the first British warship to Guinea in over a decade.
On the first day Iron Duke and Black Rover combined forces to host a reception attended by the British, French, Malaysian, Japanese, Egyptian and US ambassadors as well as the Guinean Chief of Defence.
Royal Navy sailors worked with the Guinean Navy to develop their navigational skills, fire-fighting techniques and seamanship.
Iron Duke also hosted a maritime security conference with the Head of the Guinean Navy to discuss tactics for dealing with illegal activities such as drug smuggling, armed robbery and fishery violations.
The Royal Navy's new £3b aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has been officially named. Crowds cheered as The Queen used a bottle of single malt whisky to christen in Scotland, the biggest ship ever built for the fleet.
But the atmosphere was much more muted in Portsmouth where workers who've helped to build her watched the ceremony on big screens. Many of them will lose their jobs by the end of the year when the BAE shipyard closes. Richard Jones reports.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were accompanied by Prime Minister David Cameron and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond at the naming ceremony of Britain's largest ever ship.
Hundreds of workers, who helped build the HMS Queen Elizabeth, have joined military Chiefs and dignitaries at Roswyth Dockyard in Scotland to witness the Queen's christening of the warship.
The Queen has arrived at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland to formally name the largest ship ever built for the Royal Navy.
The ceremony marks the completion of the 65,000 tonne aircraft carrier after five years of construction work which took place at six different shipyards across the UK.
To honour the warship's birthplace in Scotland Her Majesty will smash a bottle of Islay whisky, from the first distillery she visited, against the bow.
Staff from BAE in Portsmouth who helped to make parts of HMS Queen Elizabeth have been watching the naming ceremony on a big screen in the city.
The £3 billion aircraft carrier is the biggest ever Royal Navy carrier to be built.
It was put together in Scotland but large parts of it were built at BAE Shipyard in Portsmouth.
She'll arrive in the Hampshire city, which will be her home port, in two years time.
The ceremony is underway as the Queen is set to formally name the Royal Navy's largest ship at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland.
The Royal Navy has tweeted:
The Queen will formally name the Royal Navy's biggest ever ship today, with whisky replacing the more traditional champagne at the ceremony.Read the full story ›