Page last updated at 11:05 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 12:05 UK

Ark Royal back at sea after refit

Ark Royal leaving Portsmouth on Friday
Crowds lined the shore to wave off HMS Ark Royal on Friday

The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal has returned to sea after undergoing a £12m major upgrade.

Crowds lined the water's edge at Portsmouth as the vessel departed for two weeks of marine and engineering tests off south-west England.

The ship has been out of service for seven months while undergoing the work by BVT Surface Fleet in Portsmouth.

It then resume its role as the fleet flagship in the new year, taking over from sister ship HMS Illustrious.

Ark Royal's commanding officer said it was now "faster, leaner and greener".

The refit includes new exhaust systems and an updated IT network.

I've got nearly a third of the ship's company [for who] this will be their first day at sea ever in the Royal Navy
Cpt John Clink
Commanding officer

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

Commanding officer Cpt John Clink told BBC News he was "thrilled" with the refit.

"The new paintwork is particularly exciting. We will, no doubt, I hope, not break the speed limit going out of Portsmouth now that we're going to go that bit faster.

"But also importantly, it's going to save me fuel.

"If we can get the 10% fuel savings we're expecting, that can make a big difference, to the taxpayer's purse more than anything else."

He said six months was a long time not to have been operational.

"The last few days before we go to sea are always busy and exciting.

"We've had a big change over of personnel. I've got nearly a third of the ship's company [for who] this will be their first day at sea ever in the Royal Navy."

He said the ship would eventually get Harrier jets back on board after an absence of "many years" before deploying in the spring to the US.



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SEE ALSO
Ark Royal back after 12m refit
04 Sep 09 |  Hampshire
Ark Royal to sail off after visit
03 Feb 09 |  Tyne
Ark Royal welcomes public onboard
31 Jan 09 |  Tyne
Ark Royal crew march through city
08 Jun 08 |  West Yorkshire

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