Royal Navy Carrier Sold for Scrap
On Tuesday, the UK Ministry of Defense announced that it has not found a viable bidder for preserving the retired aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in Britain, and that she has been sold for scrap.
Three years ago, the MOD began soliciting proposals for historic preservation of the vessel. None of the bids received were workable, the Ministry said.
Proposals ranged from a conference center conversion to a floating helicopter port to a maritime museum, but ultimately the maintenance costs ended the possibility of preservation.
"This was almost inevitable," said David Rogers, vice chairman of the HMS Illustrious Association, speaking to the Telegraph earlier this year. "She was probably built to last 20 years and she lasted for 32. Keeping her would be an enormous cost."
The ship has been sold to a Turkish scrapper, Leyal Ship Recycling. Her scrap value came to $2.6 million, or $120 per tonne.
Leyal was also the buyer for sister ship Ark Royal in 2013.
Illustrious will leave for Turkey in the fall, in time to make room for the delivery of HMS Queen Elizabeth next year.
"Lusty provided a world-class service to the Royal Navy for over three decades," said Mike Utley, her former commanding officer. "We will bid her farewell with a heavy heart but in the knowledge that everything has been done to find a use for her."
The Illustrious was completed just after the end of the Falklands War, and she sailed to relieve sister ship Invincible in the South Atlantic before her sea trials were completed; she was commissioned under way.
She saw deployment for the enforcement of the no-fly zones over Bosnia and over Iraq in the 1990s, and she helped with the evacuation of British citizens from Lebanon during the brief Israeli-Lebanese conflict in 2006.
Her Harrier jump-jets were cut as a cost-saving measure in 2010, and she stayed on as a helicopter carrier until her retirement in 2014.