PORTSMOUTH-BASED warship HMS Illustrious has begun two months of intensive training off the south coast.
Fresh from a £40m refit, the ship is packed with Lynx and Merlin helicopters, equipping her for global missions as soon at the training is completed.
Illustrious will be the nation’s on-call helicopter carrier from January, taking over from HMS Ocean which is currently deployed east of Suez.
During the operational sea training, off Plymouth, the ship will face everything she would expect to encounter on deployment.
Capt Jerry Kyd, the carrier’s Commanding Officer, said: ‘For all the sailors on board there’s undoubtedly a sense of excitement taking Illustrious through her first Operational Sea Training since the refit.
‘We are ready for both the training and whatever the government asks us to do in the future.’