A more environmentally friendly HMS Ark Royal returned to the seas after an extensive seven-month overhaul.
The aircraft carrier has just undergone a £12 million upgrade in her home port of Portsmouth and is about to embark on two weeks of post-maintenance tests.
She is heading to the Royal Navy’s training areas off the south west of England for marine and weapon engineering trials.
During the upgrade her hull was painted with new ‘intersleek’ paint – allowing her to cut through the seas more quickly – which will cut fuel costs and emissions by nine per cent. It will also increase her top speed by two knots to 30 knots (56km/h).
The work, carried out by BVT Surface Fleet, also included new exhaust systems, an updated IT network and improvements to sewage treatment plants. Her gearboxes, main engines and diesel generators have also been refurbished.
Captain John Clink, the ship’s commanding officer says his crew “is excited and proud to be taking Ark Royal back to sea to commence our preparations to become the Royal Navy’s strike carrier and the UK‘s fleet flagship.
“I recognise that our seven months in Portsmouth has been hard work but it has ensured that we are ready to start our sea training and be able to practise our war-fighting skills. The ship is now faster, leaner and greener and looking forward to taking her place at the Vanguard of the Fleet.”
Ark Royal will resume her role as Fleet Flagship in the New Year, taking over from her sister ship HMS Illustrious which took on the honour during Ark Royal’s upgrade.