The last Invincible-class aircraft carrier to retire after 32 years of service

By Vessels

HMS Illustrious, a helicopter carrier from the Royal Navy, returns from its final voyage to Portsmouth today. The warship will retire from service after 32 years and 898,893 miles on operations.

HMS Ocean, which has recently underwent a £65 million dry dock, will replace the HMS Illustrious.

"HMS Illustrious has a long and proud history with the Royal Navy.

"The decision to replace her in service with HMS Ocean will ensure that the Royal Navy has her most advanced and capable ships working to protect the nation," said Vice Admiral Sir Philip Jones.

The helicopter carrier, known with the nickname Lusty, is the last Invincible-class aircraft carrier (together with the Ark Royal and Invincible) commissioned in the 80s years of the last century.

HMS Illustrious served during the Falklands War. It was deployed to conflict zones in Iraq, Bosnia and Siera Leone. One of its last mission was to help aid efforts in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan in December last year.

According to Warship World specialist publishers, it is early to retire HMS Illustrious.

"The problem goes back many years when recruiting for the Navy was almost halted, when plans to drastically cut it back in size were announced.

"The serious effects are only now being felt with sufficient well-trained, experienced engineers now being unavailable for sea service. Replacements cannot be trained overnight," was said in a statement.

The Royal Navy denied saying the decision was a part of a prolonged plan.

The fate of the warship is still unknown. All its sister vessel were sold for scrap, but there has been some indication that HMS Illustrious might continue its career as a floating museum which will be a tribute to its class of battle ships.