UKHMS Ark Royal celebrates Silver Jubilee

The flag­ship of the Roy­al Navy, HMS Ark Roy­al, cur­rent­ly deployed in the west­ern Atlantic Ocean, cel­e­brat­ed her 25th birth­day last week.

HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Roy­al on deploy­ment in the west­ern Atlantic Ocean
Source: LA(Phot) Gregg Macready, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The famous Roy­al Navy flag­ship entered ser­vice on 1 July 1985 and was com­mis­sioned in the pres­ence of Her Majesty Queen Eliz­a­beth The Queen Moth­er on 1 Novem­ber 1985.

The UK’s high readi­ness strike car­ri­er is cur­rent­ly deployed in the west­ern Atlantic Ocean under­tak­ing a multi­na­tion­al mar­itime exer­cise.

The air­craft car­ri­er, at imme­di­ate notice to deploy any­where in the world, has recent­ly tak­en part in cel­e­bra­tions mark­ing the cen­te­nary of the Cana­di­an Navy in Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia, in the pres­ence of Her Majesty The Queen.

While in Hal­i­fax, HMS Ark Roy­al was vis­it­ed by the Prime Min­is­ter, David Cameron, who was in the coun­try to attend the G20 Sum­mit and took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to mark Armed Forces Day by com­mend­ing the hard work and com­mit­ment shown by the ship’s com­pa­ny and restat­ed his com­mit­ment to the vital role the Roy­al Navy plays in mod­ern defence.

The First Sea Lord, Admi­ral Sir Mark Stan­hope, also vis­it­ed the ship dur­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Fleet Review, host­ing an offi­cial recep­tion for over 500 VIPs from Cana­da and NATO-part­ner coun­tries.

HMS Ark Roy­al, or the ‘Mighty Ark’ as she is som­times known, is the fifth ship to bear the name and has added to the illus­tri­ous his­to­ry of her fore­bears and upheld her famous mot­to ‘Zeal Does Not Rest’.

The first Ark Roy­al, orig­i­nal­ly built for Sir Wal­ter Raleigh, became the flag­ship of the Eng­lish fleet which fought against the Span­ish Arma­da in 1588.

The third Ark Roy­al took part in the sink­ing of the Bis­mar­ck and Ark Roy­al IV was the sub­ject of the famous ‘Sailor’ doc­u­men­tary from 1978.

The cur­rent Ark Roy­al helped bring peace to Bosnia in 1993/94 and, fol­low­ing an exten­sive refit and upgrade in the late 1990s, took part in the sec­ond Gulf War in 2003.

HMS Ark Roy­al is one of the Roy­al Navy’s two oper­a­tional Invin­ci­ble Class air­craft car­ri­ers.

HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Roy­al on deploy­ment in the west­ern Atlantic Ocean
Source: LA(Phot) Gregg Macready, Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

She weighs 22,000 tonnes and was built at Swan Hunter’s dock­yard in New­cas­tle. Con­struc­tion on her hull began in 1978 and she was com­mis­sioned into ser­vice in 1985.

The con­struc­tion cost of HMS Ark Roy­al was £320m but she was deliv­ered by Swan Hunter four-and-a-half months ahead of sched­ule, with some mid-build alter­ations hav­ing been made due to lessons learnt from the Falk­lands con­flict.

She can sup­port up to 24 air­craft any­where in the world and, along with this, pro­vides a plat­form for task group com­mand and con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and intel­li­gence-gath­er­ing oper­a­tions.

To date, she has played a cen­tral role in the fur­ther­ance of British for­eign pol­i­cy and pro­vides a mix­ture of war-fight­ing, peace sup­port and dis­as­ter relief capa­bil­i­ties.

All of those who have ever served on what many peo­ple believe to be the ‘world’s most famous war­ship’ always men­tion the great ‘Spir­it of the Ark’, none more so than the cur­rent Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, Cap­tain John Clink:

HMS Ark Roy­al is a won­der­ful­ly hap­py ship. The name ‘Ark Roy­al’ is renowned through­out the world and I am very proud to be able to be a part of the his­to­ry of this great ship,” he said.

HMS Ark Roy­al is 25 years old, yet remains ful­ly capa­ble of deliv­er­ing air pow­er to ene­my tar­gets.

“I am excit­ed about the Queen Eliz­a­beth Class car­ri­ers which are cur­rent­ly being built around the UK, and fore­see the long and dis­tin­guished his­to­ry of Roy­al Navy car­ri­er capa­bil­i­ty con­tin­u­ing well into the future.”

The ship’s com­pa­ny of HMS Ark Roy­al will cel­e­brate the Sil­ver Jubilee with a series of events through the autumn when the ship returns to the UK.

The events are designed to max­imise the oppor­tu­ni­ty for those who have been asso­ci­at­ed with the ship to vis­it her dur­ing the fes­tiv­i­ties, includ­ing vis­i­tor days for her affil­i­at­ed schools, vet­er­ans asso­ci­a­tions, Ser­vice organ­i­sa­tions and char­i­ties, as well as a recep­tion for all for­mer offi­cers and war­rant offi­cers who have served on her.

The for­mal cel­e­bra­tion will be a Cer­e­mo­ni­al Divi­sions in Portsmouth on 5 Novem­ber, with the final trib­ute being paid by her affil­i­at­ed city, Leeds, which has giv­en the ship’s com­pa­ny the hon­our of exer­cis­ing the free­dom of the city.

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK