Skip to comments.Vultures hover over HMS Illustrious
Posted on 01/18/2014 2:03:54 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
The Royal Navys sole remaining aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious is due to be withdrawn from service in 2014. Image courtesy of LA (Phot) Nicky Wilson/MOD.
The Royal Navys sole remaining aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious is due to be withdrawn from service in 2014 after 32 action-packed years, but her future may be somewhat less glorious. While for the time being Illustrious is still conspicuously active, by the end of the year she could be headed for a new career as a conference centre, hotel, tourist attraction or even promotional yacht.
Illustrious was undergoing fitting out when the Falkands War broke out, and it was rushed through so quickly she was commissioned at sea. Though she didn't reach the island until combat was over, she had a role hosting the Fleet Air Arm while the Port Stanley runway was repaired, and eventually relieved HMS Invincible. She has also played a role in Bosnia, patrolled the Persian Gulf, has taken part in peace operations in Sierra Leone and helped evacuate British citizens during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon crisis.
Far from slipping quietly into retirement, HMS Illustrious is still very much in service. With a crew of 650, after deployment in the Gulf as part of the COUGAR 13 exercise task group, she was diverted to support relief efforts for 40,000 people in outlying islands following the typhoon in the Philippines and provide as a base for helicopters. She returned to Portsmouth only last week, where the crew are enjoying a delayed Christmas celebration.
After a period of maintenance, Illustrious will deploy again. After that, what next for Illustrious? In September 2012, the Ministry of Defence announced that once she is decommissioned, she will be 'preserved for the nation'. Tourist attraction or Commonwealth yacht?
Her home dockyard of Portsmouth has staked a claim, with a group of businesses submitting a proposal that she could host a heritage museum, art spaces, galleries, restaurants and a hotel. A rival bid from Hull, which will become the UK's next City Of Culture in 2017, also suggests a multi-use venue, including a conference centre and an education and training facility, in addition to a maritime tourist attraction. Bids from Newcastle and China are also expected.
But naval architect BMT Nigel Gee (BMT) and Sigmund Yacht Design have submitted a rather more radical design concept that could see Illustrious reborn as a 'Commonwealth Yacht'. Illustrious could continue to travel the world, but this time 'promoting trade, attending international events and undertaking humanitarian and disaster relief work around the globe'.
While this sounds like a rather hard-working retirement for Illustrious, leisure is still on the minds of the designers. Concept illustrations show swimming pools and sunbeds jostling for deck space with VTOL light aircraft and helicopters.
Sigmund Yacht Design owner Peter Symonds says: "Our design is a brave interpretation of such a distinguished vessel, stating boldly its new purpose, whilst paying respect to its impressive heritage."
Whether these plans fulfil the MOD's remit of HMS Illustrious being 'preserved for the nation' remains to be seen.
Naval architect BMT Nigel Gee (BMT) and Sigmund Yacht Design have submitted a rather more radical design concept that could see Illustrious reborn as a Commonwealth Yacht complete with swimming pools and sun loungers. Image courtesy of BMT/Nigel Gee/Peter Symonds.
Send treats to the troops...
Great because you did it.
(An entirely free service)
England, a once great world superpower that ruled the oceans and later fought as a major power in two world wars.
How long will it be before we turn the last of our great fighting ships into lefty looking tourist attractions?
If Argentina attacks the Falklands again.... *shakes head*
If you think the UK has slided, there is no point talking about the Argentine military!
Argentina is just biding its time.
does Argentina still have one?
The Argentine military has gone backward in the last 30 years. Few if any new purchases and their carrier is now retired. And their economy has little steam to support any offensive buildup for the next decade.
The UK military, while having become smaller, has added many force multipliers. New multirole subs, of which one is enough to sink the entire Argie navy and also lob Tomahawks. Their Eurofighters can pick off any Argentine fighter long before it comes within a 100 miles of the Islands.
They should really do it now. Lusty hasn’t been a true “carrier” for years. Without Harriers, which were withdrawn in the last decade, she’s just a helo carrier (LPH). The RN’s purpose built LPH, HMS Ocean is finishing up a comprehensive refit. When she reenters full service Lusty becomes redundant and will be withdrawn.
In the meantime HMS Queen Elizabeth is now structurally complete and should be launched pretty soon. The RN has embedded crew on USN carriers (LHD amphibs with Harriers) so critical handling skills won’t be lost. In another few years the RN WILL have a true carrier power projection capability again.
What I dont get here is why of the three Invincibles Lusty is the one they’re keeping. Invincible was class leader and fought in the Falklands. Ark Royal served in both the Balkins campaign and Iraqi Freedom. Plus she carried the most honored (honoured?) carrier name in the RN. Either of them would have been MUCH better candidates for preservation. Heck, given the choice now that Invincible is scrapped and Ark soon to follow, bringing Hermes back from India after she retires would be a better option than Lusty.
A carrier? No, Argentina no longer has one. They really didn’t have one during the Falklands, “25 de Mayo” was pretty much falling apart and after Belgrano got sunk the Argies decided to pull her back into port.
On a side note, the Brits have gone political with their carrier names just like the USN has. Queen Elizabeth (even though it’s after the first one not the current one) and Prince of Wales are battleship names. They should really have gone with Hermes and Ark Royal for the new ships. Altho Eagle and Furious would have been acceptable as well.
And if they really wanted to hang a battleship name onto one of the carriers, Warspite would have been an awesome choice ...
A military, lol
Ok, that’s funny. Good laugh, altho I have a cold and it hurts a bit.
The Brazillians do have a carrier, the former French Foch, now named Sao Paulo. They operate helos, S-2 Trackers and A-4 Skyhawks off her. In fact they’re getting another 6 or 8 C-1 Traders out of the US’s boneyard to operate as COD, airborne early warning and refueling tankers.
Occasionally they do let the Argies run carrier qualifications on her. Mostly the S-2s the Argies also have (and like the Brazil ones now have turboprop engines) and I think their Super Etendards (whichbactually did touch and goes aboard the USS Reagan when she transited to the Pacific following commissioning)
Tough little birds, those Scooters. I think that Brazil may have picked up the ex-Kuwaiti Skyhawks that were swapped out with F/A-18s after Desert Storm. They’re very young aircraft, from a fatigue life perspective. Nowhere near being close to being trapped-out.