LUSTY: Life and times of the last of the Harrier carriers

INTO THE SUNSET HMS Illustrious leaves the Med for the Adriatic for her last deployment there in the winter of 1995
INTO THE SUNSET HMS Illustrious leaves the Med for the Adriatic for her last deployment there in the winter of 1995
HMS Victory takes pride of place in this 1949 picture of Portsmouth dockyard.

Nation’s archive raided for a glimpse into Portsmouth’s recent past

7
Have your say

So, Trusty Lusty has gone on her way to a Turkish breaker’s.

When she left Portsmouth today, her hull streaked with corrosion and flaking paint, she was more like Rusty Lusty.

Launch of HMS Illustrious on December 4, 1978, at Swan Hunter shipyard, Newcastle

Launch of HMS Illustrious on December 4, 1978, at Swan Hunter shipyard, Newcastle

For those of us lucky enough to have spent time in her, it was a poignant day as HMS Illustrious, the final ship of the three Invincible-class aircraft carriers, was tugged through the narrows on her final voyage.

The last of the ‘Harrier carriers’, she sailed getting on for a million nautical miles since Princess Margaret launched her in December 1978.

The carrier was rushed into service during the Falklands War four years later.

During her lifetime she took part in a wide range of operations, among them the evacuation of British citizens from Lebanon in 2006 and the delivery of substantial amounts of humanitarian aid after a typhoon devastated the Philippines in 2013.

D-DAY Illustrious passes the naval war memorial on Southsea Common during the drumhead service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994 



Picture: Rebecca Naden

D-DAY Illustrious passes the naval war memorial on Southsea Common during the drumhead service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994 Picture: Rebecca Naden

HMS Invincible, which saw action during the Falklands War, was decommissioned in 2005, and HMS Ark Royal was scrapped after a defence review in 2010 when the government decided to stop, temporarily, operating aircraft carriers to save money.

llustrious became a helicopter carrier at that point until she too was decommissioned two years ago — more than three decades after taking to the sea.

Now we await the arrival next year of the latest carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

MEDITERRANEAN Illustrious enters Malta for VE Day celebrations in May 1995                                                            Picture PO(Phot) Kenny Everitt

MEDITERRANEAN Illustrious enters Malta for VE Day celebrations in May 1995 Picture PO(Phot) Kenny Everitt

HANDOVER Illustrious, in the foreground, having taken over the Commander Task Group duties from HMS Invincible which is setting off from Gibraltar bound for Portsmouth, February 1995

HANDOVER Illustrious, in the foreground, having taken over the Commander Task Group duties from HMS Invincible which is setting off from Gibraltar bound for Portsmouth, February 1995

GIANT ANCHOR HMS Illustriouss ships company, plus Sea Harriers, recorded in 2002 in the Red Sea afte r
operational duties in the Gulf

GIANT ANCHOR HMS Illustriouss ships company, plus Sea Harriers, recorded in 2002 in the Red Sea afte r operational duties in the Gulf

HMS Illustrious crest

HMS Illustrious crest