In a symbolic gesture the UK’s outgoing helicopter carrier has handed over duties to her successor.
In the waters off the south coast HMS Illustrious and HMS Ocean met yesterday morning and the baton of protecting the nation’s interests handed between the two.
The two ships steamed side by side, in the company of the frigate HMS Lancaster, to conduct the ceremonial handing over of their duties.
HMS Illustrious then peeled away with HMS Lancaster escorting her on her final entry into Portsmouth.
HMS Ocean will now go forward as the Royal Navy’s helicopter landing platform and HMS Illustrious will be retired after 32 years of service.
As the sole member of her class, the Mighty O was designed to support amphibious landing operations meaning she is able to deliver troops to the centre of the action by helicopter or landing craft.
With six helicopter landing spots on her flightdeck, and space in her hangar to carry many more, Ocean is Britain’s biggest warship.
Launched in 1995, the 21,500 tonne Plymouth based ship has just emerged from a 15 month £65 million refit which saw more than 60 upgrades to her flightdeck, hangar and aviation facilities.
Her engines, propellers, shafts, rudders and stabilisers were also given a thorough going over to ensure this is ready for the role that lies ahead.