Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ark Royal leaves Portsmouth for scrap yard

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Media captionThe BBC's Steve Humphrey speaks to former Lieutenant Commander Nick Bradshaw as the Ark Royal sails from Portsmouth

Large crowds have watched aircraft carrier Ark Royal leave Portsmouth for the final time.

The Royal Navy's former flagship was decommissioned early following the 2010 defence review and is being towed to Turkey for scrap.

As part of a £2.9m deal Ark Royal will go to the same yard that took its sister ship Invincible.

The Invincible Class aircraft carrier saw active service in Bosnia and during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Formally decommissioned in 2011, the Harrier jets that flew from Ark Royal were sold as spares to the US.

BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the move was heavily criticised at the time.

New carriers using the joint strike fighter will not enter service for nearly 10 years.

A bid to sink Ark Royal and turn it into an artificial diving reef off the Devon coast was rejected as were plans for a commercial heliport in London, a nightclub and school in China and a casino in Hong Kong.

The Ministry of Defence said the bids were judged either "not feasible or appropriate", or carried "too much risk".

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Media captionThe former captain of HMS Ark Royal Sir Alan Massey said the scrapping of the ship was very sad.

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