Ark Royal could now become a hospital ship

IN LIMBO HMS Ark Royal
IN LIMBO HMS Ark Royal

Engine woes end mission

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THE Portsmouth-based HMS Ark Royal could be turned into a hospital ship, according to reports from Northern Ireland.

Daily newspaper the Belfast Telegraph reports the former Royal Navy ship, currently moored at Portsmouth’s naval base, could be bought by businessman Malcolm McMullen.

Mr McMullen has plans to transform the decommissioned ship into a humanitarian disaster response ship, according to the paper.

It reports Mr McMullen has a guarantee letter worth £365m from billionaire American businessman Mark D Jones to fund the project.

If the bid is successful, Mr Mullen guarantees the work to transform the vessel into a floating hospital and humanitarian aid supply ship will be handed to historic shipyard Harland and Wolff in Belfast.

The ship could hold up to eight helicopters and tonnes of fresh water, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

The Ministry of Defence decided to decommission the ship three years early as part of the government’s 2010 defence cuts.

The 20,000-tonne light aircraft carrier, which was deployed to the Bosnian and Iraq conflicts, has been the subject of various ideas for its future use since decommissioning.

Its sister ship, HMS Invincible, was sold for scrap metal to Turkish-based firm Leyal Ship Recycling for an estimated £2m.

The News reported how HMS Ark Royal has attracted interest as an artificial reef off the coast of South Devon, a potential floating tourist attraction in Gibraltar, a heliport in London, nightclub and school in China, or as a casino in Hong Kong.