Humberside

Ex-commander backs Hull HMS Illustrious carrier plan

HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious will be decommissioned in 2014 after serving in the Royal Navy since the 1980s

Proposals to turn a former Royal Navy aircraft carrier into a tourist attraction in Hull have been backed by the ship's former commanding officer.

The plan, by Hull University's vice chancellor and supported by Hull City Council, would see HMS Illustrious permanently sited on the river Humber.

The carrier, which has seen action in the Falklands and the Balkans, will be decommissioned next year.

Vice Admiral Bob Cooling said the proposal was "exactly what Hull needs".

Illustrious, which weighs 20,000 tonnes and is 700ft (215m) long, is one of three Invincible Class ships introduced by the Royal Navy in the 1980s.

While sister ship Invincible was recycled and Ark Royal was sold as scrap, the Ministry of Defence announced last year that Illustrious, based at Portsmouth, would be preserved after leaving service in 2014.

'Part of my heart'

Vice Adm Bob Cooling
Vice Adm Bob Cooling said the proposal to site HMS Illustrious in Hull was exciting

Calie Pistorius, vice chancellor of the University of Hull, said his proposal to permanently base the ship in Hull as a museum and events venue was still at an early stage.

"The next step is to make it a workable idea. There are different angles to this - one is what it will do for the city but at the same time it's important to tell the story of the aircraft carrier," said Mr Pistorius.

Vice Admiral Cooling, who was commanding officer of the Illustrious between 2004 and 2006, said the proposal to site "the old girl" in the Humber was "so exciting".

"I left a part of my heart in that ship. It's exactly what Hull needs and it's exactly what Yorkshire and the whole region needs."

Bob Downie, chief executive of the Royal Yacht Britannia, which has been based on Edinburgh's waterfront since 1998, said while one ship could not achieve a city's regeneration on its own, it could act as a "catalyst".

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