HMS Illustrious has left Rosty and begun sea trials after completing a £40m maintenance and upgrade programme.
The 22,000 tonne ship, affectionately known as Lusty, left Rosyth in Fife over the weekend, after 16 months in the dockyard when she underwent modifications to turn her into a helicopter and commando carrier, capable of carrying a force of up to 20 helicopters and 600 fully kitted out personnel.
Commanding Officer, Captain Jerry Kyd, said: “This is an historic weekend for us as we sail from Rosyth for the last time and begin our preparation for our future role as a helicopter platform. We are in top condition for the challenges ahead thanks to the hard work of my sailors and the successful partnership that we have had with industry.
“We are now raring to go, ready to take this great ship to sea for trials, and then home to Portsmouth, where we will prepare for her exciting future role.”
The work was carried out by a partnership of Babcock Marine, the ship’s company, MOD and BAE Systems.
Captain Graeme Little, from the Capital Ships team in MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said: “This has been a challenging project delivered to a very high standard by the joint project team and both on time and on budget. We approach her return to the Navy with confidence in the significant improvements that have been made”.
Having already completed one week of initial sea safety training and preliminary sea trials, the Portsmouth-based ship will now undergo a further five weeks of sea trials before returning to the Fleet at the end of July.