Hampshire & Isle of Wight

HMS Illustrious damaged in collision in Norway

A Royal Navy helicopter carrier is heading home from a training operation in Norway after its hull was punctured in a collision with a tug.

HMS Illustrious was taking part in exercises with other Nato warships when the accident happened.

It took place on 9 March in the port of Harstad, leading to damage above the waterline.

A spokesman said the two small holes had not affected the vessel's seaworthiness or safety.

'Above the waterline'

No-one was injured in the incident.

The 22,000-tonne vessel will arrive in Portsmouth on Sunday for repairs after taking part in half of its eight-week deployment in the Arctic Circle.

The Royal Navy spokesman said: "The holes are well above the waterline and do not affect her seaworthiness or safety.

"Initial repairs were carried out by the ship's engineers and, while she could have continued to participate in Exercise Cold Response, the decision was taken to return her to Portsmouth so that the repairs could be completed to ensure that her future programme can be achieved."

HMS Illustrious was laid down by Swan Hunter shipbuilders in Wallsend in 1976, before going into service in June 1981.

It was recently converted from an aircraft carrier to a helicopter carrier in a £40m refit.

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