THIS WEEK IN 1972: Crewmen sad to say good-bye to Eagle

Pictured alongside one of the Buccaneer aircraft they helped keep in the air are Eagle crewmen petty officer Rodney Court, 31, right, and petty officer John Bradshaw, both from the Portsmouth area
Pictured alongside one of the Buccaneer aircraft they helped keep in the air are Eagle crewmen petty officer Rodney Court, 31, right, and petty officer John Bradshaw, both from the Portsmouth area
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‘I shall be sorry to see the old girl go. She’s still got plenty of life in her and I reckon she’s a pretty good deterrent,’ said Petty Officer Rodney Court, 31.

The old girl he was talking about was his 20-year-old ship, HMS Eagle.

The 2,200 ship’s company were feeling sad and sentimental as they brought the carrier into Portsmouth for the last time.

Though still in her prime, the ship came to the end of her career prematurely as part of government policy to phase out aircraft carriers.

PO Court said: ‘With Eagle gone, we have only Ark Royal now and she will have a lot to cover alone.

‘I think they should have kept Eagle going longer.’

Petty Officer John Bradshaw said: ‘We have nuclear submarines, but one hopes they will never be used.

‘For bushfire wars you need carriers. They are a great deterrent and a very impressive sight when they arrive at a port.

‘Wherever we have called, thousands of visitors have come aboard.’