Seeing Lusty leave would be a sad sight for city

There are few sorrier sights than that of a once-great naval ship making her final journey.

But it’s a sight we’ve seen far too often in recent years.

Ship after ship has made its way out of Portsmouth Harbour, more often than not heading for a Turkish wreckers’ yard.

Their destiny? To gain a second life as razor blades and tin cans.

It’s an unedifying spectacle for those vessels.

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Which is why it’s particularly sad to bring you the report we do today on the state and future of the former HMS Illustrious.

She is currently languishing in Portsmouth Harbour.

Over the past few years a number of ideas have been put forward with the aim of securing Illustrious’ future.

One plan would have seen her become a floating museum and conference centre in Hull.

There was a bid to keep her in Portsmouth, also operating as a conference centre.

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Gibraltar expressed an interest and there was even talk of her becoming a helicopter port on the River Thames.

But all these bids came to naught.

And the ship’s former commanding officer Vice-Admiral Bob Cooling’s words offer little hope for the future.

He says that it’s too late and it’s time to let Illustrious go, however sad that might be.

We sincerely hope this is not the end of the line for Illustrious.

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Of course, Vice Adm Cooling is right. Illustrious will be barely recognisable having been entirely stripped.

And years in the water can hardly have helped her condition under the water line.

We know it might be a long shot now and the die may already be cast, but let’s hope somehow, there’s a way to save Lusty from becoming razor blades.