HMS Illustrious was put through her paces in preparation for a new role as an amphibious assault ship.
The Royal Navy’s only remaining aircraft carrier helped 80 Royal Marines from 40 Commando storm Braunton Burrows, near their base at Chivenor, in north Devon.
Two waves of marines trained on the beach after flying in from the deck of the Portsmouth-based warship after she underwent a £40m, 16-month refit to turn her into a helicopter carrier.
The trial was part of the final phase of retraining for the 22,000-tonne ship, which was originally commissioned as a Cold War anti-submarine warfare carrier in 1982, following the axing of the navy’s aircraft carrier fleet in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
The ship’s refit, which was completed in June, means it can support a mix of helicopters including Sea King, Lynx, Merlin, Chinook and Apache. When retraining is completed it will replace helicopter carrier HMS Ocean.