The crew of the helicopter and commando carrier HMS Illustrious celebrated her 30th birthday in style on May 30 with a ceremonial parade in the presence of the ship’s sponsor Lady Sarah Chatto and former commanding officers including the current First Sea Lord.
HMS Illustrious was commissioned in a ceremony at sea in June 1982 – on her way to the Falklands in the aftermath of the conflict – and has been an iconic member of the Royal Navy’s fleet ever since.
Thousands of sailors have served in her during the past three decades.
The parade took place on Victory Jetty in Portsmouth Naval Base.
Lady Sarah Chatto (daughter of the late HRH Princess Margaret, the ship’s original Lady Sponsor) inspected some of the troops and the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines School of Music.
Other crew members on parade were inspected by serving and retired admirals who are former commanding officers of the ship.
Among those was the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope.
Alongside the VIPs were families and friends of the crew and representatives of some of the ship’s affiliated charities and community organisations.
The current Commanding Officer, Captain Martin Connell, said:
“This was a memorable and fitting occasion to celebrate a milestone in the history of HMS Illustrious.
“She has been a busy, versatile and faithful servant to the nation for the past 30 years, both in times of conflict but also a reassuring presence helping to preserve peace at all other times.
“Thousands of sailors have been proud to call Illustrious their ship over these last 30 years, just as my sailors were today.”
The event concluded with a flypast from the Royal Navy Historic Flight plus Sea King, Merlin and Lynx helicopters.
Naval Today Staff, May 31, 2012; Image: Royal Navy