STRIPPED down in a Turkish scrapyard, this is the end of the former Royal Navy flagship HMS Invincible.
A third of her 22,000-ton hull has already been ripped into by scrap metal workers at Leyal International’s yard in Aliaga, Turkey.
The former aircraft carrier, which served in the Falklands War, arrived at the plant in April after she was sold by the Ministry of Defence.
Once her hull has been stripped of valuable material, she will be melted down into blocks of steel, which will be recycled for building reinforcement and everyday objects such as furniture.
Her scrap value is estimated at £2m. Prior to her move to Turkey, Invincible had sat unused in Portsmouth Naval Base for almost six years with her engines removed.
Critics argue she would have been a useful asset to hold on to, especially in light of the First Sea Lord’s comments this week that the fleet is becoming stretched as a result of the ongoing conflict in Libya.
Commander John Muxworthy, of Portsmouth-based UK National Defence Association, said: ‘She may have been coming to the end of her life, but with a refit she could have stayed in service for years to come.
‘Her demise is part of a wider pattern of brutal defence cuts that have left Britain dangerously vulnerable.’
It emerged today that First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope has been given a dressing down by Prime Minister David Cameron for telling reporters ‘challenging decisions’ will have to be made about naval priorities if the Libya campaign continues until after the summer.
Mr Cameron told MPs that he had spoken to Admiral Stanhope.
A Whitehall source was quoted as saying: ‘I think you can assume that there was no coffee or biscuits.’
Responding to calls to revisit the cuts, Mr Cameron told Parliament: ‘At the end of this review we have the fourth highest defence budget for any country in the world.
‘We have superb armed forces, superbly equipped and they’re doing a great job in the skies above Libya.’