Ark Royal to enter Portsmouth for the last time

HMS Ark Royal (R07)

HMS Ark Royal (Image via Wikipedia)

HMS Ark Royal is due to enter Portsmouth Harbour for the last time on Friday morning.

The Royal Navy’s flagship, due to be decommissioned as part of coalition budget cuts, will arrive in the Solent tomorrow morning, unusually entering via the Needles and sailing past Yarmouth, Lepe, Cowes, and Lee-on-Solent before anchoring up overnight for the usual assorted top brass, flunkies and hangers on to visit.

She’s due to pass the Round Tower at around 0940 on Friday morning. The best spots are likely to be along the hot walls in Old Portsmouth (the Round Tower will be packed), although Gosport will be a good spot due to the layout of the Aircraft Carriers deck, which means that the view from port is better as she enters harbour.

Weather permitting there will be a Harrier flypast, in what is likely to be one of the last public flights by the soon to be decommissioned jump jet.

It will be a sad sight indeed, after Portsmouth has become used to seeing brand new warships arriving, and throughout seeing flagships returning from war, almost always victorious. My parents were onboard a tug when HMS Hermes came back from the Falklands. How times change.



Filed under defence, Dockyard, Falklands War, Navy

29 responses to “Ark Royal to enter Portsmouth for the last time

  1. x

    So sad. You can blame any tears on the raw weather…….

    • John Erickson

      Give her a goodbye wave for me. I wanted to see her when she was over here on maneuvers a couple months ago, but I couldn’t get information on what ports she would visit “due to security issues”. I really miss my Chicago-area military contacts!

  2. Call me Dave thinks getting the 2018 Football World Cup is more important….

  3. x

    @ WEBF

    I thought we already had “the” world cup?

    Though I do hold out hope if the cold weather continues year on year that we may eventually host this world cup too,

    @ James

    I belatedly pick up my copy of December’s Ship Monthly to be greeted with a picture my fave HMS Bristol under tow for a £4million 6 month refit up in the North East which should extend her life for another 10 years. Super! I had forgotten about this and I thought she was off to the razor blade factory. I wonder what they will do to her? When I was last onboard they were ripping out the combined bunk/cupboard/desk units out of the officers’ cabins for health and safety reasons.

    And there is also a nice picture of the Pride Of Bilbao with the Spinnaker Tower on her port beam at night. The Bilbao would also appear in the ferry berth at crucial moment on the telly and block the satellite signal into Bristol’s senior rates’ mess. Happy days.

    • x

      And I also noticed that the ferry Norland is mentioned in that issue. Unfortunately the Falklands Vet’ is off to the breakers.

    • James Daly

      Bristol is off for a refit – she’s currently being used as a cadet training ship and has been moored off the southern end of Whale Island since she was decomissioned. I’m surprised she’s gone for refit; given the large number of ships leaving service soon her days might have been numbered.

  4. John Erickson

    Friday’s going to be a bad day for the Commonwealth. The RAAF will fly the last F-111 flight before retiring the fleet. Another grand old lady – the big old Aardvark (if you don’t know why it’s called that, check Wikipedia for a picture!), a failed Vietnam-era fighter turned fantastic attack bomber. One step closer to losing another beautiful aircraft, to be replaced by the cookie-cutter computer-generated birds that fill 21st century skies. (Deep sigh.) 😦

    • x

      The Australians got good value out of the F111. The Australians must be only nation on Earth where a requirement for a long range supersonic big bird makes sense.

      • John Erickson

        I’ve always found it humourous that the US alternates between great fighters that make OK fighter-bombers, and fair-to-poor fighters that make great fighter-bombers. My favourite among the jets was the dear old “Thud”, the F-105 Thunderchief. Too big and clumsy to maneuver with Migs, but could carry enough ordnance to level entire cities! Then again, there was the fair A-36, which became the lousy Allison-engined P-51, which the Merlin transformed into the outstanding P-51, which ended the war shooting up ground targets. Talk about going round in circles!

      • John Erickson

        I was just sitting here, spacing out for a few moments (a common practice), and just realised the one aircraft I will be sorriest to see go, and it’s a bit bizarre. My saddest sight will be the last KC-135 to land. You see, I grew up under the flight paths of Chicago’s O’Hare airport. My dad and I would float in the pool back in the late 60s, and he would challenge me to identify planes by type and airline tail colours. I always loved the 707, and even after they stopped flying, the Air Force Reserve base at O’Hare flew the KC-135s into the 90s. You could always hear the difference in the engine tone, and see it by the dirty streams of exhaust so uncommon on modern passenger planes. I’m a huge fan of Boeing (sorry, all you Airbus lovers out there), I flew all but 2 flights (out of well over 3 dozen in my lifetime) on Boeing equipment, and I hope I can be present when that last KC-135 lands, to wish the old girl goodbye. Yes, fighters and bombers possess beauty of line and form, but the 707 has a unique glamour that will never be seen again. More’s the pity.

        • x

          It is always the spectacular stuff that gets remembered.

          • John Erickson

            So was that a serious compliment, or are you suggesting I’m brain-damaged from exhaust fumes? Boy, you stand behind ONE P-47 starting up, you spend a few years flagging race cars, you live under a few airplane flights (one every 45-60 seconds for 15 years), and people start saying …… what were we talking about? :p

            • x

              I was posting from my net book. Though the keyboard and screen are lovely without a mouse it is a pain to use. So………

              It is always the spectacular stuff that gets remembered. But a lot of the real history is found in the more work-a-day and ubiquitous equipment. We have more, many more Spitfires than Hurricanes, for example. For me ‘planes are abstract things. I have my favourites but not, if any, experience of them in the metal (or wood or fabric.)

  5. x

    I missed the Ark Royal this morning on BBC TV. They said 1000 and it was earlier. Thanks BBC.

  6. John Erickson

    Oh X, my friend, you have GOT to get to somewhere they are maintaining or restoring old planes to fly. Airplanes are inherently graceful (form following function), but the older ones are truly works of art underneath the skin. If you have any desire to know how things work, an airplane is the pinnacle of that search. Before computers, and especially before jet engines, the ingenuity required to get an airplane to work is astounding. Big “prop jobs” like a B-17 or Lancaster contain so many intricate mechanisms and truly astounding structures, there is something for anyone to admire, be you a petrol head, architect, engineer, or just scientifically curious. And though I named warbirds above, the beauty extends to big passenger planes like the Constellation, or even to older jets like the Comet, and 707. Even the B-52, affectionately knows as the Big Ugly Fat F***er (sorry for the curse word), has an allure all its’ own. A friend told me once that “Every woman has her beauty, you just have to look for it”. Find the beauty in an A-10 Warthog (guilty!), and you’ll know that every “bird” has her beauty!

    • x

      Me thinks you were right, too many AVCAT fumes aren’t good for you….. 😉

      No I have an appreciation of their engineering, the maths, and science.

      It is just I prefer things that float, run on rails, and rubber tyres; indeed things that stay in one place and go just wherr and click. And I don’t have much spare anything to concentrate on these…..

      • John Erickson

        Do you have any idea what a Freudian could do with your love of large things in water? 😀
        Hey, I’m a gearhead (petrolhead for y’all in the UK) from way back – I’ve worked on carburetors and ignition points! And I loves me some steam locos. Ships, well, love ’em when I can get to ’em, but most I’ve met were moored and asleep. And while a V-12 with downdraft Webers can sing a sweet song, my first love will always come from Pratt & Whitney or Wright. Allisons and Merlins are nice, but 24 cylinders in a circle beat ’em all, hands down. I had an odd childhood – we were far from rich, so cars were bland. We lived inland, so no ships. But we were ALWAYS near O’Hare, so I always had planes in my life. Heck, I took the controls of a plane before I ever sat behind the wheel of a car. Hence, birds on the brain. (FREE SHOT!) 😀

        • x


          As for ships you are pretty land locked in Ohio.

          If it is any comfort I live in one of England’s few land locked counties.

          • John Erickson

            Dude, I keep saying it – I’m from Chicago, ANYTHING is possible. Besides, I know people back there who are always looking for dirt to cover their … um … shall we say, divested business partners? 😉

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