BRITAIN has ‘no appetite’ to save its modern naval warships, the former captain of the doomed HMS Illustrious has said today.
The iconic aircraft carrier is destined to leave Portsmouth next month, bound for a Turkish scrapyard.
Vice Admiral Bob Cooling is one of Illustrious’s former commanding officers. He said: ‘There’s no appetite to try and preserve aircraft carriers.
‘I spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours with city councils and the MoD trying to persuade them to preserve her.’
As previously reported in The News, David Campbell Bannerman, East of England MEP, called on the government to consider converting the 22,000-tonne ship into a Falklands memorial.
But Vice Adm Cooling has hit back, saying the plan would never work.
‘It’s utterly impractical,’ he told The News. ‘The Ministry of Defence has received a deposit for the scrapping – it’s a done deal, the ink is drying on the paper.
‘The ship has been completely stripped out ready to be scrapped.
‘There’s none of her soul left at all that visitors can see; there’s no bunks, furnishing and ops room.
‘The place has been completely stripped.’
Mr Campbell Bannerman claimed in an online blog that Britain should take a leaf out of America’s books.
He said that the US had preserved scores of its 20th century warships and urged Britain to follow in this example and fight to save Illustrious.
But Vice Adm Cooling said there was ‘a fundamentally different culture’ in the US.
He added: ‘They will come up to people in uniform and thank them for their service but in Britain we just don’t do that.’
Illustrious is due to leave Portsmouth next month.
Previous plans to save her included turning her into a floating museum and relocating her to Gibraltar.