December 1, 2010

Want to buy (the remains of) an aircraft carrier?

Filed under: Britain, Environment, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 09:47

HMS Invincible is being disposed of:

Strategy Page has more:

Britain has put its decommissioned (in 2005) 20,000 ton aircraft carrier, HMS Invincible, up for auction at edisposals.com. Five years ago, the Royal Navy said that the ship would be held in reserve until September, 2010, for possible reactivation. That process would take 18 months. However, by last year, Invincible was in a sad state, with its many components removed, and tended to by a detachment of only four sailors. Thus the auction did not come as a big surprise, and the Royal Navy hopes to obtain at least $3 million for the old ship. The Invincible entered service in 1977, and normally carried 18 Sea Harrier vertical takeoff jets, four helicopters and a crew of 1,050. The Invincible underwent a refurbishment in 2004, but cuts in the navy budget forced retirement the next year. Invincible played a vital role in the 1982 Falklands campaign.

It’s not as easy as it used to be for navies to get rid of unwanted ships:

In the past, navies would send retired ships “to the breakers” and receive a portion of the value of the scrap metal obtained when the breakers (the firm the disassembles ships) finished their work. But this is no long profitable in many cases, because taking ships apart in an environmentally correct way costs too much. This has become a problem for navies, that have no easy way to get rid of old ships. The U.S. uses many old ships for target practice and lets them sink at sea. But even this practice is under attack because of potential environmental damage.

Update, 3 December: HMS Ark Royal has just arrived in Portsmouth to be paid off. It’s not clear if the British government will try to sell the ship or if she’s headed to the breaker’s yard.

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