Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Monday, 1 February 2010

Navy warship arrives in Fife for refit

HMS Illustrious
About 300 jobs have been created by the HMS Illustrious refit

Royal Navy warship HMS Illustrious has sailed into Scotland ahead of a £40m refit in Fife.

The vessel sailed under the Forth Bridges and docked at Crombie in Fife.

Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy greeted the 685ft ship as it headed up the Firth of Forth and met apprentices due to work on the carrier.

The Ministry of Defence contract with Babcock will provide employment for about 300 people for 18 months until August 2011.

Mr Murphy, who sailed alongside Illustrious on HMS Archer, hailed the contract as a boost to the Scots economy.

Young apprentices

He said UK defence contracts had prompted a resurgence in Scotland's shipbuilding industry.

"It's heartening to see businesses, some of them small family-owned firms, with full order books, able to take on young apprentices and give them a real future," he said.

"And it's amazing to think that in just a decade, eight Navy ships have been launched on the Clyde and an incredible 45 ships have undergone maintenance and refit at Rosyth, all work worth billions of pounds for Scotland's economy and employment prospects.

"Aircraft carriers have a crucial role within the armed forces and on operations worldwide, so these upgrades are part of the government's strategy to ensure we have the best people, the best equipment and capabilities to meet modern-day defence challenges."

HMS Illustrious, known as Lusty by her crew, participated in most major UK and Nato campaigns since she was commissioned in Portsmouth in 1982.

She was first deployed to the Falklands and over the years operated in the first Gulf War, Sierra Leone and the war in Afghanistan.

A previous refit was carried out at Rosyth in 2002 at a cost of £118m.

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