The exact date may not have been set. But her fate has been sealed. HMS Ark Royal, formerly the Royal Navy’s flagship, is to go to the same scrapyard in Turkey that dismantled HMS Invincible.
She will be recycled and could turn up as anything from razor blades to car parts.
While we understand that the navy was under extreme budgetary pressure when the decision was made to axe the Ark in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, that doesn’t stop it being sad now that last journey approaches.
Her final journey will take her out of Portsmouth Harbour for one last time, no doubt watched by many people from the Round Tower and Southsea.
And then that’s it. Until the new carriers are completed, which is not due to happen for several years, we have no aircraft carriers.
Yes, Illustrious is still around, but she’s no longer a true aircraft carrier as the aircraft themselves have been sold to the US.
What’s a little sad is that none of the alternatives to scrapping ever came to fruition.
Yes, some were a bit bonkers, but to see the Ark preserved in some way would have been a more dignified end than this.
Ideas included making her a commercial heliport, a floating school, a nightclub or even a casino.
But sadly, they all fell by the wayside. And we’re left with the sad truth.
The once great ship that saw deployments during the Bosnian war in the 1990s and the Gulf War in 2003 is soon to be no more.
We agree with former naval officer Mike Critchley, who says of her final journey ‘I’m sure it’ll be a sad day – she’s been affiliated to Portsmouth for so long.
So let’s make sure when the Ark does go, she leaves with a bang, a true Portsmouth send-off to show what she’s meant to us.