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Sunday, December 4, 2016

HMS Illustrious that served in Falklands war to be scrapped ! - Ship-breaking !!!

The final preparations are being made to Britain's sole aircraft carrier before it sets sail on its last voyage.  It is a ship whose service began when it was rushed in to service for the Falklands War and went on to sail 900,000 miles around the world on deployments. The ship was involved in the Bosnian, Iraq and Sierra Leone conflicts and also helped to evacuate Brits during the Lebanon war in 2006.   

The life span of such ships is roughly 25 to 30 years ! – perhaps when there was no shortage of material, and the ships could be carefully and leisurely built, it was not as worthwhile breaking up a wooden ship. She was generally taken to some quiet spot and left to fall to pieces with the minimum of trouble to her owners.

The sight of a very large vessel floating on water, carrying goods from one place to another offers imagination beyond dreams. Man has conquered the ocean sailing across with the aid of ships and boats which developed alongside mankind. Vessels have borne the key in history’s greatest explorations. The cargo - from slaves to modern day containers, dry and wet, live, frozen and refrigerated, big machineries, bulk cargo, liquid cargo – the variety is endless. But just as most things have a shelf life, ships also have a limited span of life. Depending upon the type of vessel and nature of goods carried, generally after 25-30 years ships are at the end of their sailing life. These vessels who have outlived its existence are sold and dismantled to recover the valuable steel. A very major % of the vessel consists of steel which can be rerolled besides valuable machinery such as generators, marine engines etc., There are various other miscellaneous material as well.

They are taken to on a funeral voyage to the junk-yard – with high tide, they are simply intentionally run aground, as closer to the shore as possible, then cruelly cut into pieces manually, pulled a bit more, and eventually even the keel vanishes !!

Now it is the turn of ‘HMS Illustrious’, which served in the Falklands War, the Gulf War and Bosnia, to be scrapped on Wednesday. It will leave its base at Portsmouth and head to Turkey where it has been sold for £2million. Daily Mail reports that the last of the Invincible-class aircraft carriers, which could be armed with Harrier jets and attack helicopters, was retired in 2014 after entering service in 1982. The ship's final years have been controversial after the Ministry of Defence declined plans to preserve her as a naval museum. A last ditch attempt to save her from scrap was refused by naval bosses despite £3million being offered.

HMS Illustrious will make way for for two new Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, the first of which will be commissioned for military operations in 2020. The MoD expects the carrier to leave Portsmouth for Leyal Ship Recycling and Dismantling company in Aliaga, Turkey, on Wednesday depending on weather conditions. It is the same yard which scrapped her sister ships Ark Royal and Invincible. HMS Ark Royal was scrapped for £2.9 million in 2013 and HMS Invincible fetched around £2 million in 2011.

It is not alone nor the first ship.  Five other Navy ships have borne the name Illustrious. The first won battle honours alongside Horatio Nelson’s gunship to secure victory over the French in the 1795 battle of Genoa. The current Illustrious was built by Swan Hunter shipyards, Tyne and Wear, and commissioned ahead of schedule in 1982 to allow to serve in the Falklands War. In 1986 she suffered a catastrophic gearbox failure and was swept by a major fire – almost prompting a call to abandon ship – that put her out of action for several months of repairs. She has sailed 898,893 miles, equivalent to 36 times around the equator. She was also involved in efforts to distribute relief in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013.

Veterans who sailed on Illustrious viewed her demise as sad but inevitable. Speaking earlier this year, David Rogers, vice chairman of the HMS Illustrious Association, said: ‘We’re all very sad it’s come to this obviously, but I think it was an inevitability. ‘The ship was conditioned in 1982. She was probably only designed to last 20 years and she did another 12 years after that.' The ship, nicknamed ‘Lusty’, has been moored in Portsmouth since she was decommissioned in a moving ceremony in the city on August 28, 2014.  
I had always thought that only ships had funeral voyage – it appears that ship-breaking yards too are headed for swan song.  The Indian town of Alang, which was considered one of the biggest ship recycling centre, where workers with blow torches cut segments of steel stripped from the rusting hull of a towering cargo ship – are hit reportedly by  a flood of cheap Chinese steel and new European Union environmental rules – is the business dying is the Q ? as the buzzing town is slowly losing its prominence. The plunging steel prices has contributed a lot to this. 

The Marine Hull Tariff provided ways of covering these ‘ dying ships ‘ under two different sections. Sec V of the erstwhile Marine Hull Tariff provided for coverage of funeral voyages from a place in a Port to the breakup yard or vessels lying at sheltered places awaiting break up. This was more of transit insurance and would cease upon beaching or starting up of breaking operations.  Another Section  provided for Ship breaking insurance – insurance of vessels in the course of being broken up. Here the Sum insured was to be Full purchase price + customs duty + port charges + any other government levy. The period was not on voyage basis but was to be reckoned in period of full months, arrived at the basis of actual LDT of the vessel. The policy though issued in Hull Department was more or less Fire Policy ‘C’ cover providing coverage against Fire, Lightning, Explosion / Implosion, Impact damage, Aircraft damage, Riot, strike, malicious damage and additional cover against Earthquake, STFI perils etc.,

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd Dec 2016.

Credits  : Photos and news of HMS Illustrious –

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