Warship HMS Invincible leaves Portsmouth for the final time

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HMS Invincible left Portsmouth this morning on her way to be scrapped in Turkey.

Dozens of veterans turned out to see the aircraft carrier make her final journey.

HMS Invincible leaves Portsmouth for the final time en route to Turkey

HMS Invincible leaves Portsmouth for the final time en route to Turkey

The ship has been sold by the Ministry of Defence after six years of inactivity in Portsmouth Naval Base.

A crowd packed the Round Tower to catch a last glimpse of the grey hull as she was towed to her final resting place.

It was almost 29 years to the day that the aircraft carrier left Portsmouth on April 5 1982 to fight in the Falklands War.

Among those wishing the ship farewell was Admiral Sir Jeremy Black, who captained the ship during the conflict.

He said: ‘It’s actually a rather horrific day. It’s the end of our ship. We are all great friends and a lot of them are here and it’s nice to see them but it’s tragic to see the ship going.’

Dick Hazel, who was deputy hull officer on the ship in the Falklands, said: ‘It was a fantastic ship and had very good comradeship throughout. It was my home for a long time so I’ve come down today to wave the good lady off.’

The ship was towed from its moorings at Portsmouth Naval Base at 8am.

It will take her four weeks to reach the Turkish scrap yard owned by Leyal Ship Recycling, who bought the warship on the MoD’s auction website edisposals.com.

Ironically, Invincible will pass Libya on her journey, where many defence experts say Britain needs an aircraft carrier to enforce the no-fly zone.

Invincible was commissioned in 1980 and was the first in class of the navy’s three new aircraft carriers - her sister ships are HMS Ark Royal and HMS Illustrious.

She boasted Prince Andrew among her crew during the Falklands crisis.

At the time of the Argentine invasion, Invincible had been earmarked for sale to Australia for £175m. But that was quickly halted and she went on to spend 25 years in service for Queen and country.

Her decline began in 2005 when defence chiefs mothballed her for 14 months after a multi-million pound refit which was meant to extend her life by 10 years.

The warship has had her engines, propellers and systems ripped out but her 10,000 tonnes of steel is worth around £2m on the metals market.

David Watts, 70, from Southsea, who served as a weapons specialist on the ship, said: ‘In a way it seems undignified for a vessel that did so much for us to be taken to Turkey to be broken up for scrap but it’s nice to be able to say goodbye to this lady of the sea.’