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HMS Illustrous

The UK Royal Navy has decommissioned the last Invincible-class aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious, after it clocked up 900,000 miles on operations across the globe in its 32-year service.

HMS Illustrious commanding officer captain Mike Utley said: "It has been a great honour to be the final commanding officer of HMS Illustrious.

"This is a symbolic day in the history of the Royal Navy as we lower the ensign for the final time on the Invincible-class.

"We say goodbye to Illustrious with sadness and pride as we remember her outstanding history, but also excitement as the Royal Navy looks to the future and HMS Queen Elizabeth."

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By GlobalData
"We say goodbye to Illustrious with sadness and pride as we remember her outstanding history."

HMS Ocean, which has recently completed a £65m refurbishment, will replace Illustrious as the nation’s helicopter carrier, before eventually being replaced by two new 65,000t aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.

During its service, Illustrious was deployed in the aftermath of the Falklands War, assisted in maintaining a no-fly zone in Bosnia in the 1990s and carried out similar activities in the Arabian Gulf in 1998.

The vessel also helped the support mission in the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Haiyan.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is seeking to preserve HMS Illustrious, but a condition is that the purchaser has to keep the vessel in the UK.

Image: HMS Illustrious during its decommissioning. Photo: courtesy of the UK Royal Navy.

Defence Technology