Friday, March 11, 2011

'Zeal Does Not Rest' - HMS Ark Royal is decommissioned with overwhelming appreciation for her service

A sad day for the British Navy.....The crew of the Ark Royal have our thanks and respects for the good service and defense of freedom. The British Navy will hopefully rebuild and once again stand shoulder to shoulder with the US Navy in keeping the seas free.

Best of British: Tears flow as Ark Royal's last 150 sailors say an emotional farewell
By UK Daily Mail Reporter
11th March 2011

Tearful crowds have gathered for an emotional farewell to the HMS Ark Royal as the doomed Royal Navy's flagship was decommissioned.

The last remaining 150 sailors serving on board Britain's most famous warship watched as her white ensign was lowered for the final time.

Principal guest First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope inspected a guard comprising 30 of the ship's company at the aircraft carrier's home port of Portsmouth, Hants.

The Royal Marines Band played ceremonial music during the hour long service conducted by the ship's chaplain and attended by more than 900 family and former commanding officers.

The 689ft long ship was controversially decommissioned three years early due to government cuts.

Captain Jerry Kyd, the last Commanding Officer of HMS Ark Royal, who now commands sister ship HMS Illustrious, said: 'Ark Royal is the best of British and represents everything great about our country.

'She has served all over the world in tough battles and paying farewell to her is a very emotional occasion.

'I'm very proud to have served as her last captain and will cherish her fantastic spirit.

'Ark Royal has played a very important role throughout her history and has had considerable success in delivering carrier strike.

'My very first job after finishing my initial officer training 25 years ago at Dartmouth was in the then brand new HMS Ark Royal.

'It is therefore a great honour for me to have been her last captain.

'I am only too aware that this famous ship and her iconic name mean a great deal to many people.

'Although Ark Royal will be decommissioned, the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are vastly more capable and will provide the Royal Navy with an exciting future.'

Ark's operations have included playing a pivotal part in the NATO campaign during the Bosnia conflict and, in early 2003, leading the UK's naval forces during Op Telic - the invasion of Iraq, with a fleet of helicopters embarked.

Last November The Queen visited the ship in Portsmouth as part of Ark Royal's 25th anniversary celebrations.

She clocked up 621,551 nautical miles during her career and made her final entry to Portsmouth on December 3 last year.

One of the final crew members of the Ark Royal was wren Shannon Brown, 20, from Hull, in east Yorks, who took part in the ceremony.

She said: 'I have to admit I had a lump in my throat during the ceremony and at times it was hard to hold it together.

'My time aboard has been fantastic and eventful, I've been here nearly three years and made a lot of friends.

'The Ark Royal is our most famous warship and I will always be proud to say I was part of her final crew.' The ship, which is the fifth to bear the name Ark Royal, was launched in 1981 on the River Tyne by the Queen Mother and commissioned in 1985.

She had intervened in the naming of the ship, requesting she be called Ark Royal following a public outcry over the planned name of HMS Indomitable.

The name Ark Royal has played an important role in the history of the Royal Navy since the first ship earned her battle stripes against the Spanish Armada under Lord Howard in 1588.

The third Ark Royal played an integral part in the Second World War, helping to track down the German battleship Bismarck before herself being torpedoed by a German U-boat and sinking.

The current ship, which can reach a speed of more than 30 knots, received its battle honours on Iraq's Fao peninsula during the 2003 military campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The ship has the motto 'Zeal Does Not Rest' and can carry 22 aircraft.
Its future remains unclear. It may be sold, used for spare parts or turned into a museum.

The decision to scrap the ship leaves the UK without the ability to launch fast jets from a British aircraft carrier until the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carrier comes into service at the end of the decade.

The first Ark Royal was to be called Ark, which became Ark Raleigh, following the convention at the time where the ship bore the name of its owner - Sir Walter Raleigh.

In order to reduce his debts to Queen Elizabeth I he sold the ship to her in 1587 for 5,000 pounds and it then became known as Ark Royal.

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