Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 17:44 UK

Ark Royal back after 12m refit

HMS Ark Royal
The refit included the installation of an updated IT system on board

The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal has returned to the Royal Navy fleet after undergoing a major upgrade.

The ship has been out of service for seven months while undergoing the £12m refit by BVT Surface Fleet in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The warship will now undergo sea trials before returning to its position as flagship, taking back the role from its sister ship HMS Illustrious.

Ark Royal's return was marked by a Red Arrows display in Portsmouth on Friday.

The refit included the fitting of new exhaust systems, an updated IT network and improvements to sewage treatment plants.

The gearboxes, main engines and diesel generators have been refurbished and the hull has been painted with new "intersleek" paint to improve fuel consumption.

The Red Arrows display was part of events to mark the return to fleet of Ark Royal which was held to coincide with the ship's annual families day, where friends and relatives have a chance to visit the crew on board.

Ark Royal's commanding officer, Captain John Clink, said: "Divisions and families days are always special occasions in any ship's programme, but this event was particularly important for Ark Royal.

"It marks our imminent return to the operational fleet as the nation's strike carrier, as well as giving us the opportunity to show off our fine ship to families and friends."

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