HMS Illustrious returns home to Tyneside for 30th anniversary

image captionFrom North Shields, the carrier will deploy inside the Arctic Circle

A Royal Navy ship built in North Tyneside is returning home on its 30th anniversary.

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

Now the Royal Navy helicopter carrier will berth alongside Northumbria Quay in North Shields on Wednesday for the start of a four-day visit to Tyneside.

Commanding officer of the ship, Capt Martin Connell, said the ship's crew were looking forward to a warm welcome on Tyneside.

Although the 22,000-tonne ship will not be open to the general public for safety reasons, sea cadets and students from local schools and colleges will be given guided tours.

The students will learn about career opportunities on board the ship and in the Royal Navy as part of a regional engagement programme.

Lt Cdr Charles Wood, regional liaison officer for the North of England, said: "We are delighted the ship is returning to its birth place.

"The North East remains a favourite visit for all Royal Navy ships."

Local companies Wear Dock and Tyne and Wear Marine Ltd will assist the ship while it is berthed.

Lt Cdr Wood, said: "It is important that the Royal Navy maintains links with this historic ship manufacturing region and we still rely on the expertise available here on Tyneside to conduct repairs when we are alongside."

From North Shields, the carrier will then deploy to inside the Arctic Circle for three weeks of cold weather training.

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