HMS Invincible to leave Portsmouth for the last time

HMS Invincible, one of the Royal Navy's flagsh...

HMS Invincible in happier days (Image via Wikipedia)

The Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Invincible is due to leave Portsmouth for the last time later this week.

At 0800 on Thursday (24 March) she will be towed out of Portsmouth Harbour on her way to the breakers yard in Turkey. She has been laid up in No 3 Basin in the Dockyard for almost 6 years, after being decommisioned in 2005. She was sold to a Turkish shipbreaker earlier this year after an ebay-style auction. It seems she is being sold off in order to clear space for her sister ship HMS Ark Royal, who decommisioned last week.

It really is the end of an era with the departure of Invincible. She first arrived in Portsmouth in 1981 brand-new from the shipbuilders. My Dad was working in the Dockyard at the time and worked on her when she was dry-docked for the first time, apparently one of the underwater sonar transducers took an accidental dink that needed fixing.

I really hope that people turn out to mark Invincible’s departure. Amongst all of the political sprawling for brownie points with the departure of Ark Royal, we should never forget the role that she played in the Falklands War in 1982. Men died flying Sea Harriers from that ship. What a pity that the Harrier’s have been scrapped, so she cannot even get a flypast to see her off. But then again I doubt the Government or the MOD will want to make a big deal out it.



Filed under Falklands War, Navy, News

31 responses to “HMS Invincible to leave Portsmouth for the last time

  1. John Erickson

    I understand the requirements of towing her to her last port. It would be more seemly for her to at least leave her last home port call under her own power.
    Say goodbye to her for me, okay? As I said to a friend about USS Missouri, “I don’t know her, but I dated USS Texas for some time, and all the old girls talk”.
    And don’t take this wrong, but I suspect it will be grey and rainy, and not just because you’re in England.

  2. x

    She has no engines and other vital equipment is missing too.

    Yes it is sad.

    The Invincible’s had the largest reversing gearboxes ever fitted to a gas turbine ship. On the day Invincible’s gearbox was delivered to Barrow it was warm and the low loader sank into the Tarmac…..

    • John Erickson

      That’s what I figured, X. Thanks! 🙂
      Meanwhile, one of the aircraft types leading the assault on Libya’s air defences is – your guessed it – the US Marine Corps’ Harrier. Sorry to rub it in, gents.
      I’d have loved to see the loader sinking into the pavement! Too cool! And yes, I am a sick so-and so! 😀

      • x

        Here in the UK the Discovery Channel is showing a documentary series about Ark Royal’s last deployment. The last programme was all about a USMC operating 12 AV8b cabs off her for a week or so. Impressive stuff. The UK’s GR9s are/were AV8b’s without RADARs so only good for moving mud…….

        • James Daly

          Am I right in thinking that the Ferranti radards were the best bit about the old SHAR’s? funny that thats the one thing that the GR9’s didnt have…

          I still find it impossible to disconnect the demise of the Harrier/Carrier combo with the insidious machinations of the RAF.

          • x

            Blue Fox/Vixen were superb devices.

            You have to remember it was the RAF that owned the FAA GR9s. The junior service sees no need for its CAS ‘planes to have RADAR. And I suppose that is true. But a naval attack aircraft is a different beast.

            Blame the usual suspects…..

            (PS: Are you telling me young Mr Daly that you don’t have a copy of Sea Harrier over the Falklands? )

            • James Daly

              I haven’t got a copy but I’ve read it several times… essential reading for understanding those not-so-little rivalries between the FAA and RAF!

      • John Erickson

        Never under-rate an airplane for not having a certain sensor. The A-10 lacked thermal sights in the 1991 Gulf War. So the pilots and ground crew kludged a system where they took the IR image from carried missiles (Hellfire, though I may be wrong) and wired it back into a screen in the cockpit.
        By the by, what kind of idiots are you folk employing at the Beeb? My taped morning feed is showing Eurofighters taking off from Italy – 2 came back on a low pass (PR, anybody?) and the idiot reporter stated he didn’t know if they were flying past or landing again. Um – do you see any landing gear down? No? Then – pay attention here – THEY’RE NOT LANDING, YA WANKER!
        (Sorry, he exceeded my patience buffer. I’m better now.) 🙂

  3. Harriers? Aboard ship? Nah – it’ll never work…

    • John Erickson

      Don’t look like it will. The USMC is already cutting the number of F35-Bs they’re buying to replace the Harriers, switching over to the F35-C carrier version. And the B is still “on probation”, and if it doesn’t make certain benchmarks, both Congress and SecDef are talking about cutting the funding even further. So look fast, there may not be western STOVL around very much longer.

      • James Daly

        I don’t think I’ll ever come to terms with the gradual loss of STOVL aviation. It’s proven, yet it seems that their Airships never wanted it in the first place as its not flashy enough and couldn’t wait to get rid of it when the opportunity arose.

        What I don’t understand is, OK… the Harrier was ageing. But why was all the talk about scrapping, and no effort put into redeveloping the STOVL concept?

        And as for aviation in general, I would take quite some convincing to change my mind that since 1945 naval aviation has been far more effective and capable than Crab Airways. And that the Harrier is the only British aircraft to have really proven itself in the post-WW2 world. History speaks for itself on that one.

      • John Erickson

        The US, especially in the past 20 years or so, has embraced a “Veyron for Vauxhall money” mentality (is that a good translation?). They want an MBT replacement that will do everything 20% better than the M1 Abrams and cost half as much. They want a Harrier replacement, doing 50% more, and costing less than a Harrier. AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! So the F35-C proceeds rapidly (why not, it’s a regular jet with beefed up landing gear and an arrestor hook), while the STOVL F35-B plods along (considering less than half of it traces back to Harrier) under constant threat of cancellation. Technology isn’t cheap, progress isn’t cheap, and building a STOVL aircraft you can fly one-handed while chucking missiles and bombs all over the place is NEVER going to be cheap OR easy. Yet our Congress screams about cost overruns – while voting themselves 20% raises, creating budget deficits of $1 trillion, and trying to give free money to everybody. Except the military industry, that has to do far more with rapidly shrinking resources. Meanwhile, our Air Force flies planes older than my 1987 Cavalier, waiting for funding to buy planes whose wings AREN’T falling to pieces.
        And people laugh over here when Donald Trump is put forth as a candidate. I don’t know about his foreign relations, but I’ll bet he could cut domestic spending AND get the military the money they need! 🙂

        • James Daly

          It’s a common theme in science and technology nowadays – Government’s aren’t willing to put in the time and money to get results, everything has to be done NOW. Even with building projects – cheapest and quickest always wins over built-to-last. It’s a false economy. You pay peanuts and you get monkeys.

  4. John Erickson

    Lord, those Eurofighters are ugly buggers. Looks like somebody took one of our XB-70 Valkyries from way back, and ran ’em through the hot-wash cycle to shrink them. Valkyries are big, beautiful birds – well, bird, since there’s only one left. Eurofighters are just – well – UGLY. Sorry, guys, most British and European modern aircraft are reasonably attractive (Rafale is actually rather pretty, from the right angles, and Tornado has always had that very proper “bad-ass” look). Then again, we’ve defined the word ugly – look up “parasite fighter” and “Goblin” sometime on Wiki! 😀

    • James Daly

      Must admit I quite like the look of the Eurofighter – I’ve always thought it to look quite graceful. And as for the sound… its the closest thing I’ve heard to the Vulcan roar.

    • John Erickson

      I don’t know, something about those huge intakes under the cockpit, combined with the thin forward fuselage. Though they do look better airborne – almost every aircraft does. (The ‘Nam-era A-4, with its’ huge nose gear, always looked cute in a comical way). What we need for Libya is the same as back in the mid 80s – Tomcats. Now THOSE were gorgeous – and when they cracked the afterburners? Make your heart stop for a few seconds. God, I miss those birds! 😦

      • James Daly

        I’ve got to be honest, my favourite military aircraft are the big brutish workhorses – Chinook, Hercules et al. But then again the Nimrod just looks hideous. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Dakota too.

      • John Erickson

        Okay, litmus test – What do you think of the B-58 Hustler? And, let’s see – weirdest aircraft for the beauty contest – Bv-141 from WW2 Luftwaffe? (Yes, the asymmetric beast.) Or the Bv-138, if you need symmetry. 😉
        Ever see a C-130 do a RATO takeoff? I saw the US Army Golden Knights at an airshow, and their transport, a tarted up C-130, does one at the start of the show. A C-130 going up at a 55-60 degree angle? THAT JUST AIN’T RIGHT!!! 😀

        • James Daly

          I checked out the B-58, can’t say I’m a fan… pointy nose, angular wings… looks not unlike a Mirage!

          The German’s didn’t really make nice looking planes did they?

          I haven’t seen a RATO. Its hard to believe that a Herc take-off could be any more dramatic – how such a big lumbering thing gets up in such a short run-up must defy physics!

        • John Erickson

          Okay, that explains a lot. I think the B-58 is gorgeous, the BV-138 is cool (for a flying boat, especially when it carried the degaussing ring for mines), and I think the some of the German twins (HE-219 and DO-217) are VERY nice. I’ll give you that the early war birds, especially MEs and the JU-87 are pretty hideous!
          Then again, the old guys out here know we can’t expect PROPER appreciation of beauty from youngsters, now can we? 😉

    • x

      They look pretty in black.

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  6. Sedge

    I remember seeing USS Missouri (BB-63) in Portsmouth harbour in the early nineties as I returned on a Brittany ferry from a trip to France. It was a truly awesome ship bristling with guns menace and had only just seen active service in the first Gulf War. Anyone else remember it being there as I can find no record of this ships visit to Portsmouth and I didn’t have a camera with me at the time?

    • James Daly

      I believe that Iowa was in Portsmouth in the early 90’s (see flickr for pics of her entering the Harbour and tied up at Middle Slip Jetty), but I’m not sure about Missouri. You could try asking on worldnavalships forum – they are very knowledgeable there.


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