back to article HMS Illustrious sets sail for scrapyard after last-ditch bid fails

Venerable aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious leaves Britain today on her final journey to a Turkish scrapyard, despite efforts to preserve her for the nation as a museum ship. Affectionately known as "Lusty", the Invincible-class carrier – initially designated a "through-deck cruiser" when she was ordered, to get past …

  1. Pen-y-gors

    Shame

    Surely they could have dug out a few old Gloster Gladiators from a museum somewhere and put them on board, then Britain would again have a working aircraft carrier AND working planes to fly from it.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Shame

      What's the radar cross section of a Gladiator? It must be pretty low. Even if not, what's the speed cut off on a typical AA radar system? Possibly a Gladiator could fly slow enough to be confused for ground clutter.

      What I'm saying is, a Gladiator could be the closest to a stealth aircraft we can afford.

      More sensibly* a Swordfish could carry a 700kg torpedo about 600km, so a couple of smallish laser guided bombs should be no problem.

      * actual sense may vary

    2. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Shame

      Frankly, I think the question should be asked as to if it would make sense to dig up the designs for the last generation of prop driven aircraft and build a modern version. I don't think the idea is totally crazy.

      The Sea Hornet (a metal version of the famous "wooden wonder/timber terror" Mosquito) has a real world demonstrated range of 2,382 km with a full warload, or 4,184 km carrying external fuel tanks instead of bombs. It missed WW2 by a whisker but flew from WW2 carriers one half the size of our new carrier.

      The F35B's combat range is 865 km on internal fuel and weapons, and the maximum theoretical range is 1,670 km. Presumably this is with external fuel tanks and internal weapons, but is not confirmed and it's not been said if this is real world achievable or not.

      The Sea Hornet might actually be the better aircraft, being considerably cheaper and having a better range and payload. It's also half the size, so you can fit twice the number onboard a carrier. It has a proven service history, it doesn't suffer from problems like melting holes through the decks of ships it lands on, and they have a proven ability to deploy from light fleet carriers. (ahem, "helicopter/commando carriers" which we operate but can't carry jets.)

      Personally I think the idea should be seriously considered, it's not a totally crazy idea, just an cheapish aircraft twice the size of a Reaper drone. (and it might be worth building them with the remote control stuff stolen from a Reaper drone if we're worried about prop planes not being survivable in a modern battle)

      And if BAE goes nuts about the idea then just dig up the original Mosquito plans from the national archives and get in touch with a furniture maker/woodworkers for a comparative quote!

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Shame

        I'd be tempted to go for the Mossie instead of the Hornet, as the wooden construction should make it a bit more stealthy, but I'd still love to see a Hornet in the air, by all accounts they were fantastic to fly:

        "For aerobatics the Sea Hornet was absolute bliss. The excess of power was such that manoeuvres in the vertical plane can only be described as rocket-like. Even with one propeller feathered the Hornet could loop with the best single-engine fighter, and its aerodynamic cleanliness was such that I delighted in its demonstration by diving with both engines at full bore and feathering both propellers before pulling up into a loop!"

        That's what Eric "Winkle" Brown had to say about it, and he ought to know!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shame

        Frankly, I think the question should be asked as to if it would make sense to dig up

        Why dig up anything. Making a navalized Super Tucano is a trivial engineering task. It fits the spec you describe (slightly smaller range, but still more than F35 model B). It can carry modern guided munitions so no need to do all the work of fitting them on a Mosquito.

        Most of modern warfare is counter-insurgency anyway.

        Unfortunately, as the aircraft is readily available, operated by half of the world and not made by BAE it will never happen.

        By the way, I am not the only one to notice this: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/low-and-slow

        1. SkippyBing

          Re: Shame

          The Hornet used the same wooden construction as the Mosquito, which is why none are left, the RAF ones served mostly in the Far East and basically rotted away after they were finished with and left at the side of the airfield. I suspect you'd have issues fitting most of the avionics a modern combat aircraft needs in one though and if you did the performance may become slightly more pedestrian. Also despite popular opinion wooden aircraft aren't invisible to radar, I mean if they used a wooden engine I suppose they might be. But it's a question of what frequency you're searching in. Plus propellers give awesome Dopplar returns.

          I still want one though.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Shame

            Why dig up anything. Making a navalized Super Tucano is a trivial engineering task. It fits the spec you describe (slightly smaller range, but still more than F35 model B).

            When loaded with weapons the Super Tucano has a 550km range, compared to the F35 range of 865 km, and the Sea Hornets range of 2,382 km. That's more than a slight difference.

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Shame

          @AC

          "Making a navalized Super Tucano is a trivial engineering task."

          I think material scientists would take exception to "trivial". By no means impossible but I suspect most metal components may need hardening against salt water.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Shame @Trigonoceps occipitalis

            "Making a navalized Super Tucano is a trivial engineering task."

            I think material scientists would take exception to "trivial". By no means impossible but I suspect most metal components may need hardening against salt water.

            Given the earlier comments about the suitability of older technologies in modern conflict situations, what would be relatively trivial would be the continued manufacture of the Harrier jump jet - given the work has been done and: the manufacturing capability is still available, as are pilots with experience, and the ships (such as HMS Illustrious) that can take them with little or no without modification...

    3. chasil

      Temeraire - Shame

      This too shall pass.

      The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fighting_Temeraire

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This makes me feel old...

    The Falklands War happened as I was growing up and is the first major event I remember clearly; more specifically for HMS Invincible, though I seem to recall wandering Lusty's flight deck at a Rosyth Naval Day some time not long after. Perhaps naval technology doesn't move so fast these days but she still looks modern to me, whereas in WW2 a 32 year old carrier through deck cruiser would look positively archaic. Thanks El Reg for making me feel old!

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: This makes me feel old...

      I would love to see what a 1907 aircraft carrier or even a 1913 aircraft carrier would look like. IIRC the first was Japanese in 1915 and was a normal ship with scaffolding to raise the deck so that it could be flat.

      1. David Neil

        Re: This makes me feel old...

        The Japanese effort was a seaplane carrier and only launched amphibious aircraft, though it did launch the first at-sea air raid on another ship.

        The first ship capable of launching and recovering aircraft was HMS Argus, a converted liner, built at the Beardmore yard in Clydebank - she remained in service into WW2, primarily as a landing practice and aircraft ferry ship

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: This makes me feel old...

        I would love to see what a 1907 aircraft carrier or even a 1913 aircraft

        1915 actually: http://www.hazegray.org/navhist/carriers/images/russia/orlitsa.jpg

        This is a sea-plane launcher, fought in the battle of the Riga bay, the battle of the Moonzund straights and various other engagements in the Baltic. I think the Italians, Japanese had several similar ships as well.

        In fact, the second (ww1) Ark Royal was a seaplane carrier too.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utterly shameful

    The government should be ashamed of itself. Its bad enough it and previous governments have cut the navy to little more than a costal defense force, but to flog off our naval heritage like this for a paltry sum is just shameful and frankly IMO spiteful. It probably cost more in civil servant wages to sort out the paperwork to export if for scrap than the 2.1m they're going to get for it and don't tell me they couldn't have stopped the sale, they block sales of other national assets when it suits them. Perhaps ministers just don't want a permanent reminder hanging around of their decimation of the navy.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Utterly shameful

      "Utterly shameful"

      Hah, there I was assuming you were talking about the Reg linking to that hate-rag. I was going to agree with you, and all. Oh well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Utterly shameful

        "Hah, there I was assuming you were talking about the Reg linking to that hate-rag. I was going to agree with you, and all. Oh well."

        I wonder how long it'll be before the juvenile trend of claiming "hate" against anything or anyone millenials don't like or don't politically agree with will end?

        1. Pen-y-gors

          Re: Utterly shameful

          Generally a fair point, 'hate' is rather overused, but in the case of the Daily Heil, I think 'hate' is a mild word. The foul acidic, lying bile that spews out of the Mail can't be described any other way. Calling experienced judges giving a clear and considered verdict 'Enemies of the People', branding a judge a 'gay, former olympic fencer' (as if that's a bad thing?), I hate to think what dirt they'll throw at the Supreme Court after next month's 11-0 decision.

          1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            Re: Utterly shameful

            HMG will leave the dirt slinging to the Daily Mail and Daily Express

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Utterly shameful

            "Generally a fair point, 'hate' is rather overused, but in the case of the Daily Heil, I think 'hate' is a mild word. The foul acidic, lying bile that spews out of the Mail can't be described any other way."

            I'm no fan of the Mail, but at the other end of the political spectrum there's just as much bile. However I don't remember the lefties ever shouting about the "hate filled Morning Star" or similar. There's more than a certain amount of bias in the vitriol directed at The Mail. Also frankly, if the Mail really did spew hate its editor would be up before a court. Unpleasent opinion != hate speech. Just an FYI.

            "Calling experienced judges giving a clear and considered verdict 'Enemies of the People"

            That was out of order, however even more circumspect papers have pointed out a number of them had links to the EU machinary that made their impartiality suspect to say the least.

            "It is at the heart of all that is bad with this country, and its popularity diminishes us all."

            If the majority of the country disagrees with you, perhaps the problem is with you, not them.

            1. Pen-y-gors

              Re: Utterly shameful

              however even more circumspect papers have pointed out a number of them had links to the EU machinary that made their impartiality suspect to say the least.

              Actually it doesn't. I really, really don't think the impartiality of Britain's most senior judges can be called into question. I suspect some of them would sentence their own children to life if that was what was legally justified. And of course, unlike in some countries, they aren't elected politicians or personal appointments by the PM. Think about that if you want nightmares.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Utterly shameful

                " I really, really don't think the impartiality of Britain's most senior judges can be called into question"

                You can think what you like, but at the end of the day they're just human. There's nothing special about the british judiciary or the people in it (academic qualifications aside). Being promoted to the judiciary is just a nice pat on the back for a barrister after N years at the bar.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Utterly shameful

                  "Being promoted to the judiciary is just a nice pat on the back for a barrister after N years at the bar."

                  I know people who've been through the process. It's not a pat on the back. Becoming a law lord and sitting in the supreme court, even less so. Would you appreciate people speculating that progression in your chosen field is down to pats on the back and time served?

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Utterly shameful

                    "Would you appreciate people speculating that progression in your chosen field is down to pats on the back and time served?"

                    It is in most industries. When you're a bit older you'll find that out. Its not what you do, its what you're seen to do and who you know. Don't say you weren't warned.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Utterly shameful

                      ""Would you appreciate people speculating that progression in your chosen field is down to pats on the back and time served?"

                      It is in most industries. When you're a bit older you'll find that out. Its not what you do, its what you're seen to do and who you know. Don't say you weren't warned."

                      I'm in my late 40's, you fool. My progression has very clearly been down to what I've done - each achievement has been a stepping stone to the next challenge and I've never relied on patronage to open doors.

                      In my experience, people who rubbish the progression of others as "pats on the back" generally haven't progressed very far themselves. Funny that.

            2. smartypants

              Re: Utterly shameful

              "If the majority of the country disagrees with you, perhaps the problem is with you, not them"

              Only 1 in 4 people I see in the street voted Brexit, and even in the Brexit camp are a sizeable percentage - one hopes the majority - who don't consider it a crime to be foreign, and don't consider hate to be something to be encouraged.

              So no. The problem isn't me. Nobody is going to be living in fear because of my views.

              Do you think foreigners deserve what is thrown at them by the Daily Mail? Do you think that the almost non-existent coverage of the trial of the guy who executed an MP as a 'traitor' was appropriate?

              The Daily Mail - whipping up hate and hiding the consequences of it.

              And here you are, defending it. Well I hope you get the shit off your hands.

              1. YARR

                Re: Utterly shameful

                'hate' is rather overused, but in the case of the Daily Heil, I think 'hate' is a mild word. The foul acidic, lying bile that spews out of the Mail can't be described any other way

                It's not my intention to defend the DM, but when I look at it I just see an unexceptional but top-selling paper targeted at a particular segment of the population. It's news stories seem distinctly ordinary to me, with the odd alarmist story for sensationalism. I can think of many things more deserving of being labelled "hate", for example the endless commenters spreading their seemingly unjustified hatred towards the DM on these forums. I guess everyone has to have their own oppositional 'hate' target to validate the moral righteousness of their own opinion, though it be a fictional construct of their own mind.

                then what's the right word to use for a 'newspaper' which goes to absurd lengths to vilify people whose only sin is to have been born on a patch of land across a body of water?

                Are you sure they vilify all foreigners just for being foreign, or do they justifiably vilify people who are harming the future of our country?

                Illegal immigrants (who by definition have no right to come here) but arrogantly assume they can, should rightly be called imperialist invaders / occupiers who disrespect that our ancestors fought for our respective countries and not for the rights of others to take our country from us. Most foreigners respect our independence but a few (like the EU) want to dictate our laws and undermine our country.

                We've started wars against whole nations of people who never invaded us (but our government just invent a reason to fight them), so when people do invade our country, we are entirely justified to be angry and want to defend our country. This isn't "hate" it's righteous defiance.

                So the government had a choice, keep a load of scrap iron afloat for dubious propaganda purposes at a high cost, or flog it off and be done with it

                It wasn't scrap iron before they spent a lot of money removing various systems. It was a functioning warship which could have been kept in reserve at minimal cost until it's replacement ships were commissioned. Historically foreign nations have bought our old ships and kept them operational for decades, so there's plenty of life left in them.

                If the majority of the country disagrees with you, perhaps the problem is with you, not them

                Perhaps. The proof is in whether their views are founded on facts and reason. Often the majority are opinionated but not well informed and not capable of good reasoning - hence democracy can result in poor decision making.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Utterly shameful

                "Only 1 in 4 people I see in the street voted Brexit, "

                And even less voted remain. I know, an inconvenient fact for you, but a pertinent one.

                "So no. The problem isn't me. Nobody is going to be living in fear because of my views."

                Ah here we go with the loaded terminology. Hate now fear. Tell me, are you tolerance of anyones views other than your own?

                "Do you think that the almost non-existent coverage of the trial of the guy who executed an MP as a 'traitor' was appropriate?"

                I don't know how much coverage they gave, I don't read The Mail. However clearly you do presumably in order to be offended so you have something to bang your drum about and feel self righteous.

                "And here you are, defending it. Well I hope you get the shit off your hands."

                I didn't defend anything, I simply posited a question. Sorry if it was all a bit too high brow for you that you had to resort to the standard issue mud slinging. Anyway snowflake, I suggest you run off to your safe space and hug your teddy bear, you seem stressed you poor thing.

              3. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Utterly shameful

                Only 1 in 4 people I see in the street voted Brexit, ....

                So, you're just saying that you live in London or Scotland?

                1. smartypants

                  Re: Utterly shameful

                  "So, you're just saying that you live in London or Scotland"

                  Nope. Let's do some special snowflake sums.

                  UK Population: around 65 million. Votes for Brexit: a little under 17.5 million

                  17.5 million / 65 million = 0.27... I.e. roughly one in 4 people* I see in the street. Isn't the truth fun! (Better than being told what to think by hate-filled idiot journalists)

                  In London, it'll be far, far lower, on account of the very low support for Brexit and because it's a world city full of people from around the world.

                  *(Yes, yes, I know, some of those people weren't real people. Some might be underage - doomed to live in the little brexit prison we're building for them now, or might not have voted. Or might be EU citizens living here because we as a country signed up to a scheme where we could all live where we wanted. Or might be refugees who are living here only because their homes have been destroyed in a war caused by the instability we unleashed elsewhere in the world).

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Utterly shameful

                    "Nope. Let's do some special snowflake sums."

                    Want to do the sums for remain now? No, didn't think so.

        2. smartypants

          If not "hate"

          then what's the right word to use for a 'newspaper' which goes to absurd lengths to vilify people whose only sin is to have been born on a patch of land across a body of water? Day after effing day..., turning good people bad with its poisonous diet of lies and hate in the service of nobody other than its tax-avoiding millionaire owner.

          It is at the heart of all that is bad with this country, and its popularity diminishes us all.

        3. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Utterly shameful

          I'm not a millennial but I probably am a special snowflake. Whatever, I can't remember the Mail spewing so much poison into the national conciousness as now, and that's saying something. It's pure opinion dressed up as a newspaper.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Utterly shameful

            It's pure opinion dressed up as a newspaper.

            I must disagree with this in the strongest terms. It's underdressed sleb pap shots plus pure opinion, all dressed up as a newspaper.

          2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Utterly shameful

            Whatever, I can't remember the Mail

            Go to the library, pick up Mail issues from the 30-es. Go to the library, pick Mail issues from the late 40-es (especially those as they are spewing bile at polish immigrants),

            Things tend to come back in circles.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Utterly shameful

          I suggest having a look on twitter at the work of @dmreporter who shows up the Daily Mail's hypocrisy and through snapshots of the unmoderated comments section to DM articles, the sort of bellowing bile that accompanies them (the comments and the upvoters can't all be trolls)

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Utterly shameful

      I'm sure various commentards can verify the costs of keeping a small pleasure boat on the water, keeping an entire aircraft carrier afloat, even as a museum, would cost thousands and thousands every year, and clearly no museum wanted to take it on.

      So the government had a choice, keep a load of scrap iron afloat for dubious propaganda purposes at a high cost, or flog it off and be done with it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Utterly shameful

        "So the government had a choice, keep a load of scrap iron afloat for dubious propaganda purposes at a high cost"

        Is the Imperial Was Museum there only for propaganda purposes then? What about HMS Belfast? The Mary Rose?

        Idiot.

      2. John Jennings

        Re: Utterly shameful

        I believe that HMS Caroline cost something like 45K per year, back in the day, to keep mothballed in Belfast. She was a WW1 light criuser, converted to RNR and Sea Cadet offices until 2009. She is about to become a tourist attraction in belfast - her initial unveil had attracted some 40K tourists right away, and should be net income generating.

        http://www.nmrn.org.uk/exhibitions-projects/hms-caroline

        Keeping a ship like this is nothing like keeping a small craft maintained. you take out most breakable bits (engine, tanks of hazardous materials, fuel, asbestos, etc), and effectively manage a big metal box.

        In 2008, (when I joined her for a while), the biggest repair was from some burst pipes during a cold snap.

        A refit is different altogether - new stuff for the tourists. that cost millions....

        http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/hms-caroline-to-open-in-belfasts-titanic-quarter-in-june-2016-after-restoration-34250508.html

        F00

      3. Mark 85

        Re: Utterly shameful -- but pragmatic and it's our loss.

        As a history buff, all governments are that way. Just look to the late 1800's and early 1900's at the number of wooden ships that were broken up and scrapped. Many should have become museums but upkeep is horrendous. Same for ships from WW1 and WW2. Very few have survived and as time takes it's toll, they'll soon be gone also.

        Here in the States USS Olympia may very well be headed to the scrapyard. She's deteriorating quickly.

        So, the pragmatics win... save the cost of keeping these old girls afloat and use the money on new ones. But for every one that's broken up, a bit more of history is lost. Even the ones sunk during WWII are now being picked apart for scrap. Very sad.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wish I had the money to buy Her...

    I'd turn Her into the floating museum for which She deserves, plus a personal yacht to live aboard. I'd hire the crew needed to keep Her in tip top shape, let my family & friends live aboard Her too, & travel the world to show Her off in all Her beauty.

    *Sigh*

    1. Bob Wheeler

      Re: I wish I had the money to buy Her...

      In New York, they have a WW2 era carrier as a floating museum. Well worth a visit if your in the aera.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: I wish I had the money to buy Her...

      Hell lot of money I am afraid.

      I suggest you do a search for Clemenceau class aircraft carriers which are roughly from the same age (either the whole affair on dismantling the Clemenceau or the insanities the Brazilians had to do to upgrade the Sao Paulo). Or the story of rebuilding the Admiral Gorshkov for the Indians. An aircraft carrier from those days is a gigantic floating pile of hazmat by modern day standards.

      I am surprised someone found a shipyard to dismantle it.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: I wish I had the money to buy Her...

        I am surprised someone found a shipyard to dismantle it.

        Who said it was actually going to be dismantled anytime soon, it was sold to a "Ship Recycling" business... Compared to the price of London apartments, £2.1M seems quite a bargain for the amount of temporary accommodation it provides - which was it's main use when moored on the Thames in 2012. Given winter is rapidly approaching and there are rather a lot of displaced people in Turkey, I can certainly see a use in the short term for such an asset.

  6. Hollerithevo

    I am enough of a naval history buff...

    ...to feel a lump in my throat. Even the names of the ships evoke the astounding history of the Royal Navy. I know it all went pear-shaped in the 19th century (the wild impetuous commanders being replaced by pettifogging rules and a sense of superiority), but there was a time when 'courage', 'daring,' 'dauntless', 'invincible' and, yes, 'illustrious' meant the sailors, captains and admirals.

    I think it is nuts for a small country to try to have a big naval force, and the UK doesn't, and doesn't need one (let's stop playing in global wars and have a protective force), but we can step off the world stage with heads high. Ave et vale, HMS Illustrious.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

      "I think it is nuts for a small country to try to have a big naval force"

      We're a small country who has one of the longest coastlines in europe. You need a large navy to defend it.

      1. Pen-y-gors

        Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

        "We're a small country who has one of the longest coastlines in europe. You need a large navy to defend it."

        True, but a lot of the right sort of ship. Expensive aircraft carriers without any aircraft, even expensive ones, really aren't much help with fishery protection and people-smuggling fast ribs. Any point in our entire 200-mile limit can be reached by one of the few remaining fast RAF jets within about 10 minutes from take-off.

        And we'll need to keep an eye open for traditional smugglesr bringing in brandy, bacco and laces once the post-Brexit tariffs bite. Bring back Coastguards pattroling the Cornish cliffs.

        1. Steve 114

          Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

          When I was at school, in the early 1960's, an 'Old Boy' who'd got big in the FO came back to lecture us. 'We'll hardly need a big Navy in the 1990s', he said, 'we'll need lots of little ships to stop a popular invasion across the Med, and to police the Channel.' I wonder where he is now? Pensioned-off for PC reasons, no doubt.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

          'Bring back Coastguards pattroling the Cornish cliffs.'

          And stifle the region's local yet globally-focussed highly entrepreneurial smuggling industry? Come Brexit it might be the only way to get prosecco and iPhones into the country.

        3. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

          True, but a lot of the right sort of ship. ... Any point in our entire 200-mile limit can be reached by one of the few remaining fast RAF jets within about 10 minutes from take-off.

          You falling in the trap of forgetting the British overseas territories and Crown dependencies, these aren't within 10 minutes of RAF Anglesey...

      2. Alister

        Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

        "I think it is nuts for a small country to try to have a big naval force"

        We're a small country who has one of the longest coastlines in europe. You need a large navy to defend it.

        We're also a country which now relies almost entirely on foreign imports for most of our raw materials and consumer goods, most of which come by sea. We therefore need to be able to protect our supply lines, should it ever become necessary.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

          And thanks to Brexit, our supply lines are likely to grow longer and more vulnerable.

          Realistically, very few countries have a navy which could protect modern levels of shipping effectively. All anyone can do is patrol a few choke points, like the Straits of Ormuz.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

            And thanks to Brexit, our supply lines are likely to grow longer and more vulnerable.

            Why? Are China and Saudi being towed even further away?

            1. smartypants

              Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

              Brexit will make our supply lines more vulnerable in two ways.

              Firstly, trade with our nearest neighbours May (geddit) become more costly, forcing more of what we need to come from further afield, and the currency is likely to devalue further, making imports from everywhere more costly.

              When you set fire to the arrangements on which you depend, pissing off most of the countries who are your friends and neighbours, there is no magic brexit fairy to sort it out. I still find it amazing that so many people support the fire and don't think it'll affect them. Sad!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

        "We're a small country who has one of the longest coastlines in europe. You need a large navy to defend it."

        Or alternatively, avoid the need by not falling out with all the nearby countries.

        Oops...

      4. Stoneshop
        Thumb Up

        Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

        We're a small country who has one of the longest coastlines in europe.

        Just 20% of that of Norway, though.

        Blame Slartibartfast

      5. Terry Barnes

        Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

        "We're a small country who has one of the longest coastlines in europe. You need a large navy to defend it."

        Assuming we're under attack. The navy has reduced in size and we don't appear to have been invaded.

        1. ISP
          FAIL

          Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

          "Assuming we're under attack. The navy has reduced in size and we don't appear to have been invaded."

          I agree! And as I've not been robbed you can scrap the police too!

        2. Adam 52 Silver badge

          Re: I am enough of a naval history buff...

          Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.

          Lisa: That’s specious reasoning, Dad.

          Homer: Thank you, dear.

          Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.

          Homer: Oh, how does it work?

          Lisa: It doesn’t work.

          Homer: Uh-huh.

          Lisa: It’s just a stupid rock.

          Homer: Uh-huh.

          Lisa: But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?

          [Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]

          Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

  7. PhilipN Silver badge

    Not that small

    We may feel dwarfed by the heavyweights but in terms of population there aren't that many countries which outnumber the UK. And as a group of islands on the edge of a continent whose strategic significance was acknowledged by Napoleon, Hitler - and, yes, Uncle Sam - some kind of fighting force is essential.

    It would not be so bad if there were resources in the nature of reserves ready for immediate call-up. Problem is, there is none. I seem to recall the dialogue in advance of the Falklands War as to whether for example cross-channel ferries could be "impressed" as troop carriers. The army's and/or navy's assessment was to the effect "Are you ******g serious? Those tugs are built barely to scrape past civilian build regulations and would not in a million years qualify as naval vessels!" Puts the matter into tragic perspective.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not that small

      "... in terms of population there aren't that many countries which outnumber the UK"

      I count twenty. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_(United_Nations)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not that small

      "It would not be so bad if there were resources in the nature of reserves ready for immediate call-up. Problem is, there is none."

      Lessons were learned, Google the "Point class". (though they promptly sold two of them off a few years later...!)

      On the other hand, I do think that at a certain point (which we reached a long time ago) we should recognise that we might to mobilise on a large scale at some point in the future, and that rather than trying to maintain a standing force of a steadily shrinking size and capability we would be better off reviewing the very nature of our defence plans entirely.

      Would we be better off building equipment and then carefully storing it in storehouses flooded with nitrogen to prevent rust? If a sensible policy of rotating equipment through a workshop was followed then if we needed a large mass of military equipment a hundred years down the line we'd then be able to rip the assembled masses of equipment out of storage and give it a final refurb while running training courses on how to use it.

      As long as we could pull equipment from storage way faster than anybody else could produce it, we could then simply steamroller over any opposition before that country geared up to produce their own equipment, and the fact it would be somewhat obsolete would be irrelevant next to the fact we'd actually have literally a centuries worth of war equipment available.

      And yes, hundred year old equipment could still be quite lethal and effective if you think ahead. For instance, a modern main battle tank wouldn't survive a moderately near miss from a 13.5" howitzer as a 2 ton HE shell blast would rip the turrets off or flip the tank over. (real world demonstrated on tiger tanks weighing the same as a modern MBT during WW2)

      With such an equipment store then you simply need to ensure that you can defend your storehouses against pre-emptive strikes and buy long enough to reactivate the equipment and train people to use it.

  8. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Mushroom

    My memory

    of her is dad getting unlimited overtime for work on her

    Not the falklands war, but the day she set sail out of Portsmouth, and broke down about 2 miles out with a loud bang

    Limped back in on one engine.... seems the gearbox that drove one the props exploded... why? someone left the dewatering unit on inside it when it set sail and it filled with oil and caught fire....... which set off the oil mist inside.

    According to rumour, the hanger floor had a 1 foot high bulge in it on the side over the 'box......

  9. Dave 15

    Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

    Bollocks

    The government wants us to believe we are a pathetic nation of third rate twats, they DELIBERATELY thwarted EVERY attempt to keep this ship in the UK

    I even have the emails where apparently the now near empty Portsmouth has no room for a 'hulk'... i.e. can't find another dock like the victory, the warrior, mary rose or hms Bristol... of course Plymouth is not very full either, nor Chatham.

    OK Lusty is not small but frankly neither is she big.

    Every attempt was turned down by some snot nosed petty paper shuffler who is the one on the receiving end of the backhander from Turkey where we are sending several million pounds worth of metal and getting a fraction of its value (oh, and no jobs at all.. unlike we would have had if we had sent her to a UK graveyard... its pants, pathtic, annoying, typical of the horrendous whitehall machine which is turning the UK into a desert bereft of any value at all but spied on to stop us getting 'uppity'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

      they may have a point when it comes to Devonport, there isn't much room along side where she could be permanently berthed and accessed by the public without having enter the Naval base. due to her size, or rather shape not sure what dock she could have gone in that's not in use or likely to be used. I remember as a kid back in the 70/80s seeing both Ark Royal and Eagle moored in the sound awaiting going to scrap

      1. Dominic Thomas

        Re: Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

        Yes, I used to sail my little Mirror dinghy around the Ark Royal in the Sound - after being stripped down she was riding so high in the water that it was like an inverted mountain,we could look up and only see grey steel instead of the sky...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

          both Eagle and Ark had pretty short operational lives 20 and 24 years

    2. Hollerithevo

      Re: Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

      The UK was bypassed by Germany and the USA by 1890 (to be generous; probably earlier). Germany's navy was never her strong suit, but by gum she didn't half churn them out. No one can claim Jutland as anything but a victory -- it was not a glorious action, but a bit of a muddle. The USA had a world-class fleet by 1911 and it got bigger and better while the UK's got smaller and worse.

      The government doesn't have to tell us we are a pathetic nation of third rate twats: we are a fairly unimpressive nation of diminished capacity on all fronts except that of enabling dirty money to flow freely, and anyone looking at us can see what little we have to offer.

      1. GrumpyKiwi

        Re: Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

        The Royal Navy was the worlds biggest until the 1930 Treaty of London which granted the USN parity (prior to that the RN had an 80,000 ton advantage). The USN didn't really overtake the RN in terms of naval technology etc. until the late 1930s.

        Even post that it wasn't until 1941 or so (and thanks to the Luftwaffe and U-Boat service) that the USN overtook the RN. Of course by 1945 the USN was bigger than every other navy in the world put together.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

        Germany's navy was largely a near home operation, the RN's ship had to be able to circle the world (via the many coaling stations, and other foreign bases).

        One effect was that crew quarters, and supply storage, on German ships could be smaller leaving more room for other things such as better laid out machinery and magazines. The German crews could live in barracks near to their berths for most of the time. By comparison the British matelot spent most all his time onboard.

        US battleships in use of end of 1911 - 6 dreadnoughts and the rest pre-dreadnoughts. Britain had ten dreadnought battleships in commission and another 8 building. With four battlecruisers and another four building. They had also nearly 50 pre-dreadnoughts in service. The RN was intended to have battleships equal to the next two largest navies in existence together (France and Russia).

        This is the fleet at the start of WWII http://www.naval-history.net/WW2CampaignRoyalNavy.htm

        .

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Last ditch efforts, reasonable...

      Well if it Turkey, then it must have been Borris.

      He's the only politician I know in the UK who's Turkish. Or is he American?

      I forget.

      That's what the USA actually needed this election - Boris for President!

  10. Tom 7

    Should have driven it hard ashore near ColdHarbour point.

    Be worth about £1Billion as 'affordable' housing.

  11. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    ... because she was already sold ...

    Show me a scrapyard owner anywhere in the world that pays £x for something and when offered £x+n for doing absolutely nothing declines it. Perhaps the £15m was just wishful thinking?

    1. AndyS

      Re: ... because she was already sold ...

      The transactions are in the opposite direction. What that means is that the difference is worth more than the value they expect to get from the scrap.

      If I sell my car to the scrappy for £100, and he's expecting to make £500 selling parts, you'd have to offer him at least £400 to buy the car off him.

      Who knows how much profit the Turkish yard is expecting to turn, but presumably it is significantly more than the £2M they are paying for it.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: ... because she was already sold ...

        Maybe she won't be scrapped and Turkey is actually planning on putting her back in service as the "Great Sultan Erdogan" or something.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ... because she was already sold ...

          "Maybe she won't be scrapped and Turkey is actually planning on putting her back in service as the "Great Sultan Erdogan" or something."

          But our government put a clause in the contract that says they can't. So there, that'll scare them!

          Actually there was another carrier to which happened exactly that. Too lazy to google, might have been a russian or french carrier sold to china IIRC.

          1. Tony T 1

            Re: ... because she was already sold ...

            Ex-Soviet carrier Varyag (ex-Riga) was sold by Ukraine to the Chong Lot Travel Company of Hong Kong in 1998. Varyag, the sister ship of Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov, had not been completed when the USSR collapsed, and ownership passed to Ukraine. They didn't want it, so sold it on to Chong Lot who wanted "to tow it to Macau and turn it into a floating casino" despite the Macau authorities stating there was no way they would let this rusting hulk foul up their nice clean harbour.

            In a bizarre twist of fate, the ship was instead towed to the Dalian Naval Shipyard in north-east China, where the People's Liberation Army Navy set about completing it. It enetered service in the PLAN in 2012 as the Liaoning, and can now be used to threaten China's neighbours in the South China Sea.

            1. GrumpyKiwi

              Re: ... because she was already sold ...

              Liaoning (the revamped Varyag) is regarded as barely good enough for training and not much more.

              The Chinese need her to learn all the lessons that it took the RN, USN and IJN 10-15 years of (dangerous to pilots and crew) experience to run an aircraft carrier.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Shame a corrupt banker didn't ask the Tories for it. They'd have fallen over backwards to keep it as a museum then....

  13. JimC

    Better to go for scrap than lie around getting rustier and rustier and ending up as scrap anyway. You can't keep something that big in good order with volunteer labour. Britain doesn't have that great a record with museum ships. We think of Victory and Belfast, but what about City of Adelaide, the steam tug Reliant, U534 or MV Wincham?

    1. Dave 15

      more rot

      Yes you CAN keep things that size on volunteer labour, and you can of course teach future engineering apprenticeships about engineering by having them learn how to repair it (not volunteer but cheap labour who get something positive from it)

      Forgot, only things we seem to need in the UK are degree qualified shop assistants, spies and bankers (spell that how you will)

    2. Hollerithevo

      I'm not sure a museum is what a proud ship should be

      I feel very sorry for HMS Belfast and even HMS Victory. Not to be in service, to be moored, to host (as HMS Belfast hosts) company Christmas parties when she has sailed in harm's way, to have kiddies buying toys on decks that were once fogged by smoke from the guns and blood and sweat, seems a terrible sort of limbo. A ship should be cleaving the seas on her mission or, when her end has come, to go down into the sea, the waves closing over her, the dark waters entombing her, at honourable peace.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm not sure a museum is what a proud ship should be

        There is that. For instance, this year's Google holiday party was held on the U.S.S. Hornet museum ship , moored across the bay from San Francisco at the old Alameda Naval Station

      2. imanidiot Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: I'm not sure a museum is what a proud ship should be

        @Hollerithevo

        "the dark waters entombing her, at honourable peace."

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/16/three-dutch-second-world-war-shipwrecks-vanish-java-sea-indonesia

        Unfortunately even war graves are no longer safe and sacres anymore it seems....

        ---> What I propose we do to the f&ck*rs that did this --->

        1. Hollerithevo

          Re: I'm not sure a museum is what a proud ship should be

          Yes, I agree and am saddened. Everything becomes an entertainment these days.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe on the way to Turkey...

    They can arrange for the Illustrious to ram that Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetzov off of Syria. One last service for Britain and all that.

    By the way, the Russian carrier has now lost 2 of its 15 aircraft in flight operations off Syria. So maybe the Russians should just fly the aircraft home and hand that ship over to the Turkish scrapyard while it is down there anyway.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Maybe on the way to Turkey...

      The problem for the Russians is they don't do year-round carrier operations. They can't afford it. Well either that, or the old rust-bucket is too knackered and they were running out of spares for the old planes - hence ordering these new MiG29s - which they've lost one of almost immediately.

      If you don't do year-round carrier ops, your pilots aren't fully in practise, and make mistakes like falling off the end of the deck.

      Someone apparently put heart monitors on US carrier pilots in Vietnam, and they were more scared doing night carrier landings than when they were being shot at.

  15. PaulAb

    Nostalgia.......

    I shouldn't worry about Illustrious's demise yet, we will have years and years to to do that after we get the next generation carrier that is awaiting the ever faulty '15 minute reboot' state of the art aircraft that is currently at 19Bn cost overrun and turning into a logistical nightmare for the US.

    Also, as an ex-submariner, it's a shame to see a dwindling supply of our training targets.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    One more thought

    If you want to save the Illustrious, maybe you can arrange a swap? It seems to me that Britain has a much larger, higher scrap value carrier-without-aircraft that's not doing anything...

    (Tux--because maybe with a JATO unit he could become the RN's naval aviation.)

  17. Anonymous Custard

    A sad farewell

    Saw her from a distance a few weeks back when we visited the Historic Dockyard and took the bay cruise. In the photo's she still looks quite good, but back then in the flesh and more close up she was in a very sorry state. At least they've managed to make her look good for her farewell

    Oh and the pedant in me has to say that since she's decommissioned, she's no longer HMS. Although I doubt anyone would begrudge her being so-called for her farewell...

  18. Gis Bun

    Sell it to the Russians. Supposedly the Russian carrier they sent to bombard Syrian "rebels" is falling apart badly. Only 25 working toilets for 2000+ sailors [I would guess less toilets if the captain and senior staff have their own!]

  19. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Ermmm

    that last picture of her " sailing into the sunset"..

    to get out of Portsmouth harbour , you have to sail east for about 2 miles before turning south

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Ermmm

      @Boris the Cockroach

      Yes, strictly not right, but guess some journalistic license and sentiment is called for here, as after all she is the last of her class

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Ermmm

      Well, the sun is in the wrong place in Turner's "Fighting Temeraire" so it seems appropriate.

  20. cortland

    Hmm

    I wonder what Illustrious will be renamed by the Turks on entering active duty with that country's Navy...

    1. JustNiz

      Re: Hmm

      HMS Donor Kebab

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @JustNiz

        HMS Donor Kebab

        Sheesh!

  21. TimeMaster T

    Will anyone be suprised?

    Why do I have a feeling that this ship will not be cut up for scrap?

    Will anyone be surprised if it gets transferred to some other country, retrofitted, renamed and recommissioned?

    I hope there are some safeties in place to prevent something like that.

    1. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: Will anyone be suprised?

      A 35 year old ship? Only idiots would want to commission a 35 year old ship that's been docked and unmaintained for several years. There is a reason why 35 year old ships are scrapped - it's because they are clapped out and not worth continuing service.

  22. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Current location - AIS

    If I am not mistaken, the tow is by Tug ERACLEA

    ShipAIS showing destination Aliaga, status: "Vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre".

    That's in Turkey, and status is right for a towing operation. Speed 3.8kts

    Current

    http://shipais.org.uk/shiptrail.php?mmsi=247278500

    Yesterday

    http://www.shipais.com/shiptrail.php?mmsi=247278500&date=20161207

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Current location - AIS

      It's a long way to Turkey, at walking pace.

      Couldn't they mount rotors on the side, like in that documentary Avengers Assemble, and fly it there?

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Current location - AIS

      looks like she's out of range of ShipAIS recievers.

      A later position here

      https://www.vesselfinder.com/?imo=9499656

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like