View Full Version : HMS Ark Royal returns to the fleet after a seven-month upgrade

09-05-2009, 11:35 PM
The Red Arrows performed a breathtaking display over Portsmouth Harbour today (September 4) to mark HMS Ark Royal’s return to the fleet after a seven-month upgrade.

The RAF display team is one of the aircraft carrier’s affiliated organisations and has established close ties with the ship since she entered service in 1985.

Ark Royal, alongside in Portsmouth Naval Base, combined the event with her annual families day, giving the chance for hundreds of friends and relatives of her crew to board the new-look ship and see the Red Arrows.

Hundreds of sailors on board paraded for full ceremonial ‘divisions’ during the ceremony on the flight deck. The Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Sir Alan Massey, addressed the crew and families, and music was provided by the Royal Marines Band, Portsmouth.

Ark Royal’s Commanding Officer, Captain John Clink, said: “Divisions and families days are always special occasions in any ship’s programme, but this event was particularly important for Ark Royal because it marks our imminent return to the operational fleet as the nation’s strike carrier, as well as giving us the opportunity to show off our fine ship to families and friends.”

After sea trials HMS Ark Royal will resume her role as Fleet Flagship, taking over from sister ship HMS Illustrious which took on the honour during Ark Royal’s absence from the operational fleet.

Work carried out during the £12m upgrade by BVT Surface Fleet in Portsmouth will allow Ark Royal to return to her role as the UK’s high-readiness Strike Carrier. For two years she adopted a Commando Carrier role, capable of carrying 400 Royal Marines and operating Chinook, Lynx, Apache and Sea King helicopters.

In the strike role the vessel will utilise Harrier GR7 and GR9 aircraft for ground attack, Merlin helicopters for anti-submarine warfare and Sea King helicopters for airborne surveillance and control.

The ship’s upgrade has included new exhaust systems, an updated IT network and improvements to sewage treatment plants. Her gearboxes, main engines and diesel generators have been refurbished and her hull has been painted with new ‘intersleek’ paint to improve fuel consumption.