TURKISH scrap merchants have begun work to cut up the former aircraft carrier HMS Invincible.
The warship has arrived at Leyal Ship Recycling site in Aliaga, Turkey and workers have wasted no time in preparing to turn her into sheets of steel for pots, pans and razor blades.
The ship, which fought in the Falklands War, was towed away from her moorings in March to cheers from veterans as she passed the Round Tower in Portsmouth.
For many ex-sailors, the thought of the former flagship languishing in a scrap yard is hard to take.
Joe Erskine, of the South Atlantic Medals Association ‘82, said: ‘I know a lot of Falklands veterans are very sad to see another Falklands veteran go like this.
‘She was an incredible ship but her time has come.’
Leyal workers will soon begin cutting the ship into smaller pieces which are then sent for processing and recycling in steel mills.
There the steel will be melted using electricity and is recast in ingots or slabs, which in turn will be used to make anything out of steel.
The carrier’s 10,000 tonnes of mild steel are worth around £2million on the metals market.
Invincible was the first of the three new Invincible class carriers built in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
She was due to be sold to Australia for £175m when the Falklands War broke out. She steamed to the South Atlantic with Prince Andrew among her crew and is credited as having a decisive impact in the conflict.
Peter Sanderman of Save the Royal Navy said: ‘She’s probably the most influential and iconic warship the Royal Navy has had since the Second World War.
‘When she was built she became the bedrock of the fleet and everything else was built around her and it’s sad to see her end her days like this.’
But by 2015 none of the famous Invincible warships will be left.
Ark Royal is up for sale and has been moved to the jetty where Invincible sat idle in Portsmouth Naval Base for more than four years.
Meanwhile, HMS Illustrious, which is towards the end a multi-million pound refit to turn her in to a helicopter carrier, will leave service in 2014.
The Government says Britain will not need aircraft carriers until the two new 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth carriers arrive in Portsmouth later this decade.
Mr Erskine, who lives in Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s sad to think the whole Invincible class of aircraft carriers will be gone.
‘The Invincible class carriers and Harrier jump jets would have been invaluable for the operations in Libya.’