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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Navy to have one aircraft carrier
HMS Invincible
The UK will have just one aircraft carrier, the MoD confirmed
The Royal Navy will have just one aircraft carrier in service when HMS Invincible is de-commissioned six months early, the MoD has confirmed.

A ceremony is due to be held on 3 August to mark the end of the 22,000 tonne warship's 28-years of service.

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock claims the decision to axe Invincible has come because of the cost of the Iraq war.

HMS Ark Royal is due for a major refit. In the meantime HMS Illustrious is the only operational Navy carrier.

'Nonsense'

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said the early decommissioning ceremony was being held so the crew could mark the vessel's career while it was still "a live ship".

"There's no requirement to have Invincible running at full speed for the next six months," he said.

This is all about the MoD finding funding to meet the costs of the war in Iraq
Mike Hancock
Portsmouth South MP

"It will be the last opportunity to fly a paying-off pennant because there'll be no crew on board when she's towed out of Portsmouth in four or five years' time."

Mr Hancock said: "I am appalled by this - I think it is complete and utter nonsense. This is all about the MoD finding funding to meet the costs of the war in Iraq."

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

Falklands

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 in 2010.

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.

The vessel had a 64m refit in 2001 and acted as the Royal Navy's flagship in last week's International Fleet Review.

Invincible is the sixth ship in the Royal Navy's history to bear the name.


SEE ALSO:
HMS Invincible sets sail for US
06 May 04 |  Hampshire/Dorset
New naval flagship greets Queen
28 Jun 05 |  Hampshire



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