Ark Royal off to America

Ark Royal

HMS Ark Royal passing the Round Tower

HMS Ark Royal left Portsmouth Harbour last night for a series of exercises in America.

Th Royal Navy’s flagship had been due to leave for America after a recent work-up exercise of the Scottish coast. However during the exercise the disruption of flights by volcanic ash caused her to be put on notice to go to Spain to rescue stranded British holidaymakers. Although she was not used in this capacity, she had spent the past week or so in Portsmouth Harbour. Officially no reason has been given for this unscheduled stop, but she entered dry dock for several days earlier in the week, suggesting that she required maintenance underwater.

Ark’s departure all but confirms that there will be no Aircraft Carrier present at Navy Days in Portsmouth in July – Ark Royal will still be in America, Illustrious is in refit in Rosyth, and Invincible is in mothballs in Portsmouth Dockyard, and due to go to the breakers yard sometime later this year. It also shows how stretched the Royal Navy is at present, with two active aircraft carriers, one of which is deep in refit. The Navy’s response to any crisis around the world would depend on how long it would take Ark Royal to arrive.

This deployment is likely to be one of Ark Royal’s swansongs as a Royal Navy warship. Due to decommission in 2012, by then llustrious will be out of refit and will take her place as the Navy’s flagship until she leaves service in turn in 2015. Those dates are subject to change, however, given the UK’s political situation!

Ark Royal

Ark Royal in the Solent

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5 Comments

Filed under Navy, Uncategorized

5 responses to “Ark Royal off to America

  1. However: no Sea Harrier = no fighter. For a real deployment this would be a showstopper (ignoring the few Sea Harriers still intact in MOD hands and their possible regeneration).

    Also, the loss of Sea Harrier, coupled with the commitment of the mud moving Harrier to Afghanistan for years, means that the RN has started losing the skills needed to operate fixed wing aircraft from a carrier. A sad state of affairs!

  2. James Daly

    Good points as usual WEBF. A few years ago this would have been a chance for the RN and the Fleet Air Arm to show what they can do. It begs the question, what is the point of the deployment? Aside from a few Harrier GR’s dropping bombs on ranges, I wonder.

  3. Post Sea Harrier, it has become rare to have fixed wing aircraft embarked aboard one of the carriers. Shocking really!

  4. James Daly

    so essentially at this point in time their effectiveness is pretty doubtful. Goes to show the ‘wisdom’ of having aircraft carriers on the one hand but no specialist maritime fighters on the other hand is pretty flawed.

  5. Well, that’s that way it is until the new carriers and F35 come along. I think we need deployments like this to maintain the skills needed to operate aircraft from the deck.

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