HE IS HMS Illustrious’ newest and cuddliest recruit.
Able Seabear Ted, a gift to the ship from a long-standing supporter, is learning the ropes in the operations room on board the Royal Navy’s standby helicopter carrier.
And as these snaps show, the ship’s company have been eager to show their youngest member the ropes.
The soft toy, kitted out with his own junior rating’s cap and HMS Illustrious tally, was donated to the ship by one of her staunchest supporters, Betty Hockey.
The Portsmouth-based warship’s commanding officer, Captain Martin Connell last week met Mrs Hockey to show his appreciation.
For more than 70 years, Mrs Hockey has done anything she can to help the armed forces, from running a wartime concert party to providing ships with specially-tailored teddy bears.
Capt Connell said: ‘The teddy got a comprehensive tour of the Illustrious and was well received by members of the ship’s company.
‘Extra teddies graciously donated by Betty were sold to members of the ship’s company with profits going to the ship’s welfare fund.
‘Mrs Hockey has been a friend of Illustrious throughout the great ship’s three-decade career, visiting regularly.’
In the past, Mrs Hockey has brought groups of veterans on board the ship and even sailed with her for a short period at sea. This time she dined with Capt Connell at the Royal Naval Historical Branch, 250 yards from Lusty’s usual berth at Victory Jetty.
Mrs Hockey, who lives in Bournemouth, was born in 1916 and her association with the forces stretches back to the Second World War.
The 97-year-old forces sweetheart wanted to help with the war effort, so she helped run a concert party which performed for British and American troops stationed in the south of England.
They performed in most bases and on Royal Navy warships.
HMS Illustrious has spent the last two months alongside in Portsmouth undergoing maintenance. She was in the city over the weekend before sailing for Liverpool on Monday, where she will be berthed until Sunday.
The visit has been organised to launch events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.