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U.K. Carrier HMS Illustrious Sold for Scrap

The U.K. Royal Navy Invincible-class aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R 06), and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in 2007. US Navy Photo

The U.K. Royal Navy Invincible-class aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious (R 06), and Nimitz-class aircraft carriers USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) in 2007. US Navy Photo

Unable to find a permanent home for the retired Royal Navy carrier HMS Illustrious, the U.K. Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday it would sell the ship for scrap to a Turkish firm.

Illustrious was sold to LEYAL Ship Recycling Ltd. for around $2.64 million (£ 2 million), read the statement.

Commissioned in 1982, Illustrious was deployed at the conclusion of the first Gulf War and provided aid to the Philippines in response following Typhoon Haiyan.

The carrier was decommissioned in 2014.

The sale comes after three cities – Hull, Portsmouth and British Overseas Territory Gibraltar — had entered failed bids to convert the 22,000-ton ship into a museum, according to The Telegraph.

“The size of the warship and the amount needed to maintain her are understood to have defeated all the bids,” wrote the paper in May.

Illustrious is scheduled to leave Portsmouth for Turkey in the fall.

“We have done all we can for over two years to find a home for the former HMS Illustrious in the U.K., and regrettably all options have now been exhausted,” U.K. Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said in the Tuesday MoD statement.

The MoD has sold two other carriers to Turkish scrap merchants in the last several years — HMS Ark Royal for $3.83 million in 2013 and HMS Invincible $2.64 million.

The first of two planned Queen Elizabeth carriers, which will bring a carrier capability back to the Royal Navy, is due in Portsmouth in 2017.

“As the former aircraft carrier gets ready to leave Portsmouth, so we can look to the future and the arrival of the new Queen Elizabeth Class carriers, which will ensure that the Royal Navy continues to be a pre-eminent maritime power in the modern world,” former Illustrious commander Mike Utley said in a statement.

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Categories: News & Analysis
Sam LaGrone

About Sam LaGrone

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He was formerly the U.S. Maritime Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau of Jane’s Defence Weekly and Jane’s Navy International. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.