Sorry sight as Illustrious is ripped apart in Turkey

The former HMS Illustrious in Turkey Picture: Steve Hale

The former HMS Illustrious in Turkey Picture: Steve Hale

HMS Richmond crew offers wine in centuries-old tradition at Tower of London

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THIS is what is left of the UK’s last working aircraft carrier, the former HMS Illustrious.

The ageing vessel left Portsmouth last month on her lonely voyage to be scrapped in Turkey. She arrived at the Leyal Ship Recycling Ltd’s yard a few weeks ago, after being sold by the government for about £2m.

The sale came despite proposals to turn her into a floating hotel, museum or even a UK centre for powerboats in her home port of Portsmouth.

The warship was a shadow of its former glory when she was pulled out of Portsmouth Harbour, into the Solent.

She had paint peeling away and much of her equipment and engines had already been ripped out.

Workers at the Turkish breakers yard have been tearing apart the once-proud ship for the past two week, whose bulkheads and decks have now been exposed.

The work to scrap Illustrious – affectionately known as Lusty – is expected to take several months.

The hull and interior of the 22,000-tonne warship will be recycled, becoming knives, forks and pans.

Illustrious was decommissioned in 2014 after serving the nation for 32 years.

She is due to be replaced by the new 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth-class carrier, this first of which will arrive in Portsmouth later this year.

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