Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Farewell To 'The Mighty'
Yesterday hundreds of people turned out to wave goodbye to the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Ark Royal on her last voyage before being broken up for scrap.
The aircraft carrier, which was formally decommissioned in 2011, was towed out of Portsmouth Harbour watched by a large crowd of silent well-wishers and she sailed by. She is being towed to Turkey where she will be broken up by a ship recycling company.
A flotilla of small boats sailed with her as she was pulled by tug boats from the harbour.
The 22,000 ton Ark Royal - the fifth Royal Navy ship to bear the name - was launched in 1981 and was known affectionately by her crew as The Mighty Ark.
The decision to scrap the Ark Royal has left the UK without a fully functioning aircraft carrier for nearly ten years until the next generation of carriers come into service.
Retiring her five years earlier than planned was a controversial decision and one which is still disagreeable to many. As part of a £2.9m deal the Ark Royal will go to the same yard as her sister ship Invincible.
Her last journey would have been a very sad and poignant sight for many naval personnel.
One ex-sailor said he couldn't understand why she hasn't been kept and used as a tourist attraction. That may have worked well because Britannia, docked at Leith, is now a very profitable business. However, the powers-that-be decided to rid the UK of a perfectly serviceable ship in order to save money, yet they're happy to spend millions subsidising windmills.
My thanks to JRB for this post. He gave me the motivation.