Ark Royal may become heliport

HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Royal
HMS Illustrious leaves Portsmouth for the last time
Picture: Shaun Roster

RETRO: Watch the last voyage of HMS Illustrious from Portsmouth

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HMS Ark Royal could be turned into a floating heliport for the River Thames.

The Portsmouth ship, which is due to be decommissioned next month, could provide quick links to airports in Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.

Or it could also be used as a base for police helicopters and for the air ambulance.

Plans released at the weekend also said the heliport could be manned by around 150 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including a number of disabled servicemen.

Paul Beaver, a director of the unnamed firm behind the bid, said: ‘It is much more than a commercial venture, it is inspirational. We’ll be providing work and housing for veterans and at the same time we will be saving one of the Royal Navy’s most iconic ships for the nation.’

The Ministry of Defence could not confirm if an official bid has been made due to commercial sensitivity. A spokesman for defence secretary Liam Fox said he was ‘receptive to anything that would save Ark Royal for the nation and certainly anything that would help veterans’.