Invincible Class Aircraft Carriers
The Invincible class is a class of light aircraft carrier operated by the Royal Navy. Three ships were constructed, HMS Invincible, HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal. The vessels were built as aviation-capable anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platforms to counter the Cold War North Atlantic Soviet submarine threat, and initially embarked Sea Harrier aircraft and Sea King HAS.1 anti-submarine helicopters. With the cancellation of CVA-01, the three ships became the replacements for the Audacious and Centaur classes, and the Royal Navy's sole class of aircraft carrier.
Invincible was decommissioned in 2005 and put in reserve in a low state of readiness. She was sold to a Turkish scrapyard in February 2011, and left Portsmouth under tow on 24 March 2011. Pursuant to the Strategic Defence and Security Review, 2010, Ark Royal followed, decommissioning on 13 March 2011. This leaves Illustrious as the sole remaining operational ship, serving as a helicopter carrier since 2011. After Invincible was decommissioned in 2005, and with the retiring of Illustrious expected in 2014, Royal Navy aircraft carrier usage will cease. It will only restart with the commissioning of one ship of the under-construction Queen Elizabeth-class. The three vessels have seen active service in a number of locations, including the South Atlantic during the Falklands War, the Adriatic during the Bosnian War, and in the Middle East for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
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