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20 May

Today in Gosport‘s Past:- on 20 May 2013, Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS “Ark Royal” (R07) was towed from Portsmouth harbour for scrapping in Turkey.

“Ark Royal”, the 5th RN ship to carry the name, was ordered in December 1978 as the third and final member of the ‘Invincible’ class; she was intended to be named ‘Indomitable’, in keeping with sister ships “Invincible” and “Illustrious”, but owing to the feelings of the British public on the scrapping of the previous “Ark Royal” in 1980, it was decided to use the name on this new ship.

She was laid down on 14 December 1978 at the Swan Hunter shipyard at Wallsend, on the River Tyne, and launched on 2 June 1981. Completion hadn’t been in time for her to participate in the Falklands war in 1982; she was commissioned on 1 November 1985.

She was deployed in the Adriatic in 1993 during the Bosnian war, and in 2003 was involved in the Gulf to deal with events of the invasion of Iraq; during this time, “Ark Royal” and her crew featured in a Channel 5 documentary series entitled ‘Ark Royal’. ‘The Mighty Ark’ was decommissioned on 11 March 2011, and on 20 May 2013 she left Portsmouth for the last time, under tow to Leyal Ship Recycling in Aliağa, Turkey.

She was broken up in June 2013. The motto of HMS “Ark Royal” was ‘Zeal never rests’. Credits to original photographer.

ALSO Today in Gosport’s past:- on 20 May 1845, a duel took place at Browndown around sunset, involving a Cavalryman (Capt. Seton), and a Royal Marine (Ltnt. Hawkey), concerning Seton’s dalliances with Hawkey’s wife. The outcome was the ultimately fatal wounding of Capt. Seton. Hawkey was later found not guilty of wilful murder, as the cause of death was a botched medical attempt to stop the bleeding. This was the last recorded duel between two Englishmen.