Defence Secretary Michael Fallon today saluted the former HMS Illustrious.
As the aircraft carrier left Portsmouth for the last time bound for the scrapyard, he said: “Over three decades Illustrious set the highest standards for service that the Royal Navy will continue with HMS Queen Elizabeth when she arrives into Portsmouth next year.
“Backed by a rising defence budget, our new aircraft carriers will lead a growing Royal Navy as Britain steps up to defend our country and our interests.”
The Government says that the QEC aircraft carriers will allow the UK to protect British people and our interest, project influence overseas, and promote prosperity and British values.
Captain Jerry Kyd, former Commanding Officer of HMS Illustrious and current Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, said: “Lusty provided a world-class service to the Royal Navy and we bid her goodbye with fond memories. As she leaves Portsmouth I’m looking forward to the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will ensure that we remain a global maritime power.”
The MoD says that QEC aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy, will allow the UK to project influence overseas, respond to crises and promote prosperity and British values. £120M of investment in Portsmouth will ensure that the naval base is ready for the Queen Elizabeth Carriers.
An MoD spokesman said: ‘In order to prepare the harbour and dockyard infrastructure for the 65,000 tonne carriers, 276 metres of jetty have been reinforced with over 3,300 tonnes of new steel work. New navigation lights have been installed in the harbour and Solent, with huge new fenders and gangways delivered to accommodate the giant ships.
‘HMS Queen Elizabeth is now well into her commissioning phase. She is expected to leave Rosyth for Sea Trials in early 2017, arriving at her new home in Portsmouth in late spring 2017. These infrastructure works form a major nautical-milestone on her journey to becoming an operational warship, ready for duty: a journey that will see her deploy in every ocean around the world over the next five decades.’