Carrier HMS Ark Royal put up for auction on MoD website

Image caption,
Many people, especially in Portsmouth, are sad to see Ark Royal decommissioned

The aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal is up for sale on the Ministry of Defence's auction website.

The Royal Navy's former flagship was decommissioned two weeks ago after 25 years in service as part of the government's defence budget review.

Proposals for it include turning it into a commercial heliport, a base for security personnel during the London Olympics, or a school and nightclub.

But it could also be sold for scrap like its sister ship HMS Invincible.

Ark Royal's operations have included leading the UK's naval forces during the invasion of Iraq.

The current ship is the fifth vessel to carry the name - the first saw battle in 1588 against the Spanish Armada.


Interested bidders are being invited to view Ark Royal at her home port, Portsmouth Naval Base, on 3 and 4 May.

Before they can attend, they must submit an outline of their "intentions regarding the vessel" to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The aircraft carrier is listed on the website, which is run by the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support arm.

It has a budget of £14bn to equip the UK's armed forces with everything from aircraft to clothing, and in order to supplement that, it regularly sells off kit that is no longer needed.

Also on sale currently are three Type-42 destroyers - HMS Exeter, HMS Southampton and HMS Nottingham.

The decision to bring forward Ark Royal's decommissioning by several years has been criticised because it leaves the Navy without the capacity to launch fixed-wing aircraft until replacements come into service at the end of the decade.

But the MoD said scrapping the vessel early would ensure "an enhanced carrier strike capability in the future".

"Until then, the UK continues to have access to a range of international bases which allow us to project our air power around the world," a spokesman added.

He also said the MoD was determined to ensure the best possible return for the taxpayer when disposing of equipment.

HMS Invincible, which saw action during the Falklands War, was towed away last week to a scrapyard in Turkey.

Bidders have until 1000 BST on 13 June to put their tenders forward for Ark Royal.

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