Bids Invited To Rehome Portsmouth Warship Illustrious

14 August 2014, 06:12 | Updated: 14 August 2014, 06:28

The Government's announced it's currently considering bids to rehome the Portsmouth warship HMS Illustrious.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) says it's a condition of sale that the aircraft carrier must stay in the UK, after it's retired this month.

One plan would see Illustrious become a tourist attraction in Hull. MP Alan Johnson says it would form part of the City of Culture celebrations there.

Following 32 years of service, "Lusty'' will have a decommissioning ceremony later in the year.

The carrier, which was rushed into service for the Falklands War, will be replaced by HMS Ocean which has just received a £65 million refit until the next generation of aircraft carriers come into service.

A statement on his website said:

'Alan is leading the political campaign to preserve the HMS Illustrious as a heritage attraction, working with colleagues on the Humber and the Tyne. The Illustrious is the second of three Invincible-class light aircraft carriers to commissioned in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In accordance with the promise of the Ministry of Defence that the Illustrious would be preserved for the nation after being decommissioned, Alan is addressing the pressing need to secure the future of the historic vessel before the decommissioning process begins in earnest.

'Alan is working hard with Hull City Council, the University of Hull and businesses in the city to bring this magnificent monument to British Naval innovation to Hull during its term as the City of Culture in 2017/18.

'It would form the centre of Hull’s visitor destination ambitions focussing on the history of the aircraft carrier, invented and pioneered by the Royal Navy, as well as its roles in conflict and humanitarian effort. The history of naval aviation has a strong local connection through Blackburn Aircraft, which later formed part of BAe Systems in Brough. On the Tyne, the ship will be berthed in the former Holburn Dock, housing part of the South Shields Marine School, which will relocate to new buildings constructed specifically for the SSMS. A community museum and events venue are also intended to form part of the complex. The objective is to have the ship on the Tyne for the next two years and in Hull for the following two years.

'Alan is also working particularly closely with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, discussing arrangements for ownership of the HMSI and the heritage operation. There is a mutual interest in establishing a northern branch of the museum.

'If the plans are a success, the Illustrious will be available to the general public as an immersive, inspiring and exciting visitor experience for the people of Hull during 2017 and 2018.'

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said:

"HMS Illustrious has a long and proud history with the Royal Navy. During her 32 years of service she has protected our nation's interests in the Falklands, Bosnia, Iraq, Sierra Leone and most recently the Philippines.

"The MoD is currently considering bids to rehome HMS Illustrious, and hopes to preserve her as a lasting tribute to the personnel who served on all three of the Invincible class aircraft carriers. It is a condition of sale that HMS Illustrious must remain in the UK.''