Crowds to say a final goodbye to Invincible

FINAL JOURNEY HMS Invincible
FINAL JOURNEY HMS Invincible
HMS Queen Elizabeth arrives in Portsmouth            Picture: PA

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HUNDREDS of people are expected to turn out to see HMS Invincible make her final journey tomorrow.

The aircraft carrier, which famously served in the Falklands War, will be towed out of Portsmouth Harbour at about 8am.

She is heading to a Turkish scrapyard to be broken up and recycled.

Large numbers are set to turn out at the Round Tower in Old Portsmouth to say a final farewell to the ship, including members of The Invincible WO’s & CPO’s 82 Association.

George Birkett, 65, who served as a chief mechanician on the ship from 1980 to 1982, said: ‘It’s hard to imagine her being chewed up for scrap. It’s going to be a sad day.

‘We’re trying to get as many of our people as possible to the Round Tower.

‘We know there’s going to be quite a few people turning up so we’re probably going to get there for 7am.’

The ship was the first of the three Invincible class carriers, ahead of HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious – which were both axed in last year’s defence cuts.

She was the backbone of the task force that took back the Falklands from Argentina and boasted Prince Andrew among her crew.

At the time of the Argentine invasion, she had been earmarked for sale to Australia for £175m. But that was quickly halted and she went on to spend 25 years in service for Queen and country.

Her decline began in 2005 when defence chiefs mothballed her for 14 months after a multi-million pound refit which was meant to extend her life by 10 years.

After six years of inactivity at Portsmouth Naval Base, she was struck off the reserve list and sold to Leyal Ship Recycling via the Ministry of Defence’s auction-style website, edisposals.com.

The warship has had her engines, propellers and systems ripped out but her 10,000 tonnes of steel is worth around £2m on the metals market.

Asim Ozdogan, who is a spokesman for Leyal Ship Recycling, said: ‘Weather permitting and all going well the vessel will arrive in Turkey within four weeks of departure.

‘It is estimated that the vessel will require approximately eight months to be dismantled and recycled.’