Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The Royal Navy's biggest warship has headed out for sea trials after a refit to transform her into the service's only troop and aircraft carrier rolled into one. The Ark Royal is now a "one of a kind" following the £25m upgrade at a shipyard in Rosyth, Fife. The aircraft carrier has had an internal refurbishment which will enable her to transport up to 600 Royal Marines to any flashpoint in the world. Commander Simon Petitt said: "She is one of a kind, the only ship in the service which can carry out the dual roles of troop and aircraft carrier. "She now represents a highly mobile and formidable potential strike force with air cover, one of the most flexible fighting ships in the world."Portsmouth-based Ark Royal has also had a third mast installed to improve her electronic communications. She sailed out from Rosyth for trials in the North Sea and will rejoin the fleet before Christmas. Her upgrade reflects modern military tactical thinking on "littoral warfare" – powerful air domination and the swift movement of troops from sea to land. The gas turbine-powered vessel is nearly 690ft long, weighs 22,000 tonnes and can accommodate 1,200 personnel. Launched in 1985, she can carry 24 aircraft, a mix of Harrier jump jets and Sea King, Merlin and Chinook helicopters. By comparison, a US Navy warship like USS Ronald Reagan, which weighs 95,000 tonnes and is 1,093ft long, can find space for 80 aircraft and 6,000 personnel.