HMS Illustrious during her decommissioning ceremony
A marching band walks past HMS Illustrious during her decommissioning ceremony Getty

The last of Britain's Invincible Class aircraft carriers has left the UK on route to a Turkish ship-recycling company. The Ministry of Defence had hoped that HMS Illustrious, sometimes known as Lusty, could remain in the UK but none of the bids ended up being viable.

Lusty will instead head to the Turkish ship-recycling company that offered just over £2m ($2.5m) – the same fate as two other aircraft carriers, Invincible and Ark Royal. Illustrious was decommissioned in 2014, having served as a helicopter carrier after the Navy sold its Sea Harrier planes.

That ended a long life of service. The 22,000-tonne vessel was rushed into service as the Falklands War in 1982 was ending, arriving at the islands just as the conflict ended. She helped police no-fly zones above Bosnia in the 1990s and Iraq in 1998.

She also took part in operations in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and aid missions in the Philippines. Two new aircraft carriers will take the place of the Invincibles: HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, both of which are currently being built.

Lusty's first commanding officer, Former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jock Slater, told the BBC he was "very sad indeed to see the last of the three Invincible Class ships going to the scrapyard. Most of us hoped the Government's intention to go for a maritime heritage preservation of the ship would come to pass.

"It was a great honour to be appointed as the first captain of HMS Illustrious. I have many, many happy memories."