HMS Invincible Towed Away For Scrap

The former aircraft carrier HMS Invincible has sailed out of its home port for the last time as it was towed away for scrap.

Invincible was sold on the Ministry of Defence auction website to the Leyal Ship Recycling in Turkey for a sum thought to be about £2 million.

The 210-metre ship, which has had its engines, weapons and other parts ripped out of it, will be towed for the four-week journey to Turkey.

A crowd of people including veterans who served onboard Invincible turned out to watch the ship's departure from Portsmouth, Hampshire (March 24th 2011).

The word "SOLD" could be seen written in large letters on the side of the ship.

Tom Gisby, a former marine engineering artificer, told the Portsmouth News:

"I have seen the ship leave for the last time, a very sad occasion and obviously it's emotional."

As well as serving in the Falklands with Prince Andrew on board, Invincible, which was built in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, served in the Adriatic and in Bosnia in 1995.

In 1998 and 1999, its Sea Harriers flew air combat patrols to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq and then went on to provide aid support in the Balkans.

MEANWHILE A Royal Navy destroyer returned to port for the final time today just a day after the aircraft carrier was towed away to be scrapped.

HMS Gloucester arrived at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, having completed a seven-month deployment to the South Atlantic.

On board was the ship's sponsor, the Duchess of Gloucester, who joined the ship to say farewell as it comes to the end of its 25 years of commissioned service.

The Duchess of Gloucester

HMS Gloucester set sail on its last deployment in August last year which saw it become involved in an operation off the west coast of Africa to assist the Cape Verde authorities with a multimillion-pound drugs bust.

The warship intercepted a yacht which was found to be carrying £4 million of cocaine.

The Fighting G, as HMS Gloucester is affectionately known, then continued on its deployment to carry out photographic conservation surveys for the British Antarctic Survey in South Georgia.

It also patrolled the Falkland Islands where it carried out exercises alongside the Army and the RAF's locally-based Typhoon fighter aircraft.

The ship also represented the UK at the Expo Naval trade fair in Valparaiso, Chile - an exhibition of defence technology - before it stopped off for a visit to New York on its return home.

The Duchess of Gloucester, who launched the ship on November 2 1982, was flown on board today by helicopter.

She has been closely involved with the ship during its quarter century of service which has seen 15 captains take the helm and two rededications.

Commander David George, the ship's commanding officer, said:

 "It has been a long time away from home.

"Working hard has kept us occupied and there have been lots of highlights, but we are now just looking forward to seeing our loved ones again.

"Their support has been immense throughout the deployment. I am very proud that the Duchess has been able to join us, as it conveys to both the sailors and the families how valued they and their service are."

During the deployment, HMS Gloucester was awarded the 2010 Fleet Efficiency Award by the Royal Navy for being its most effective destroyer last year, attaining the highest standards in both training and on operations.