THE last of the Royal Navy’s Invincible-class aircraft carriers will be decommissioned today.
HMS Illustrious is to mark the end of her 32-year career at Portsmouth Naval Base in front of hundreds of guests.
The ship’s White Ensign was be lowered for the final time to mark the end of an era which began with the launch of her sister ship HMS Invincible in 1977.
She is being replaced as the nation’s helicopter carrier by HMS Ocean, which has just undergone a £65m refit.
She will eventually be replaced by two new 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers being built for the navy – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Captain Mike Utley, the ship’s commanding officer, said: ‘It has been a great honour to be the final commanding officer of HMS Illustrious. We say goodbye to Illustrious with sadness and pride as we remember her outstanding history but also excitement as the Royal Navy looks to the future and HMS Queen Elizabeth.’
The Ministry of Defence is looking to preserve HMS Illustrious as a lasting tribute to the personnel who served on all three of the Invincible-class aircraft carriers.