The HMS Ark Royal steams into Portsmouth, England, for the last time on Dec. 3, 2010, in preparation for decommissioning.
The HMS Ark Royal steams into Portsmouth, England, for the last time on Dec. 3, 2010, in preparation for decommissioning. Kyle Heller/AP
The people of Portsmouth, England, on Monday turned out to bid farewell to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, destined for a Turkish scrap yard after its decommissioning two years ago.
The Invincible class carrier was a victim of a 2010 defense review that recommended scrapping the vessel and selling its Harrier jump jets (they were subsequently sold to the U.S.). Ark Royal's sister ship, HMS Illustrious, is due to be decommissioned next year, and a new class of British carrier, designed to launch and recover the F-35 joint strike aircraft, won't come into service for nearly a decade.
The Daily Mail offers a bit of history on the vessel:
"HMS Ark Royal led UK naval forces during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and saw active service in Bosnia. The Invincible-class aircraft carrier was built by Swan Hunters in 1981 on the River Tyne and was named by Queen Elizabeth.
"Nearly 30 years later, the government then axed the famous warship in the 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review. It is the most expensive warship built in the United Kingdom, costing a staggering £320million.
"There had been hopes HMS Ark Royal could be preserved as a museum ship, but the Ministry of Defense said she was in too poor a condition.
"Other proposals to reuse the ship included turning her into a commercial heliport, nightclub, school, or a casino."