HMS Illustrious – the last of the Royal Navy’s Invincible-class aircraft carriers – was decommissioned at Portsmouth Naval Base today, marking the end of her 32-year career.
The ship’s White Ensign was lowered for the final time during the decommissioning ceremony in front of hundreds of guests, ending an era which began with the launch of her sister ship HMS Invincible in 1977.
Illustrious is being replaced as the nation’s helicopter carrier by HMS Ocean which has just undergone a £65m refit. She will eventually be replaced by two new 65,000-tonne aircraft carriers being built for the Navy – HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Principal guest at the ceremony was Lady Sarah Chatto whose mother Princess Margaret launched HMS Illustrious in 1978. Fifteen of the ship’s 17 former commanding officers also attended along with dozens of veterans.