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Captain Jerry Kyd, the former commanding officer of decommissioned HMS Ark Royal, has taken command of Ark’s sister ship HMS Illustrious.

The 22,000-tonne carrier is in the latter stages of a maintenance period in Rosyth, Scotland.

It is being reconfigured as a helicopter carrier now that the Harrier jet has been scrapped.

Illustrious will be the nation’s only helicopter carrier until it is decommissioned in 2014, and relieved by HMS Ocean. It will also maintain the skills necessary for the future Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.

Illustrious, affectionately known in the Royal Navy as ‘Lusty’, will undertake a series of trials and will return to the front line in the summer.

Capt Kyd said: ‘It is a tremendous privilege to take command of such a famous and distinguished ship.

‘I look forward to the challenge with relish and getting her back to sea in June.’