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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Event marks end of HMS Invincible
A piper plays as HMS Invincible sails into port for the last time

A ceremony to mark the retirement of the flagship of the Royal Navy has taken place, amid fears that it will leave the service overstretched.

The event in Portsmouth marked HMS Invincible's 25 years of service, which includes the Falklands war in 1982.

The aircraft carrier will be de-commissioned and sold in 2010.

Critics are worried that Invincible's retirement has left the navy with only one aircraft carrier, HMS Illustrious, while HMS Ark Royal undergoes a refit.

Mothballed

Captain Neil Morisetti, Invincible's commanding officer, said the event was an opportunity to "celebrate not only her 25 years of service but also the hard work and dedication shown by members of the ship's company past and present".

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Invincible would be gradually relieved of its crew and captain soon after the decommissioning ceremony.

The crew will be given new postings and the vessel will be handed over to the MoD's Disposal and Reserve Ships Organisation where it will be mothballed until it is sold.

The carrier was launched by the Queen in 1977. The Duke of York was based on board as a Sea King helicopter pilot during the Falklands war.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch HMS Invincible sail into Portsmouth



SEE ALSO:
Last journey for aircraft carrier
01 Aug 05 |  Hampshire
Navy to have one aircraft carrier
06 Jul 05 |  UK Politics
HMS Invincible sets sail for US
06 May 04 |  Hampshire/Dorset
New naval flagship greets Queen
28 Jun 05 |  Hampshire


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