Ship happens: HMS Illustrious comes home early

The UK Royal Navy helicopter assault ship HMS Illustrious sailed into Portsmouth harbour for repairs yesterday, after the service cut short her planned participation in NATO’s Exercise “Cold Response”.

“Lusty” had been expected to host a 10-day programme of flying activities in support of the Royal Marines’ 42 Commando using an embarked flight of eight Commando Helicopter Force aircraft: four Westland Sea King HC4s, three Lynx AH7s and one Lynx HMA8.

The vessel’s involvement had already been restricted by heavy snowfall, which led to a suspension of flying operations. Then an overzealous tug boat bashed into her starboard side in Norway’s Harstad harbour, leaving two holes in the hull above the waterline (Pictures from Rex Features).

 

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Lusty detail 560.jpgInvolving around 16,000 military personnel from 14 nations, the “Cold Response” manoeuvres are being run from 12 to 21 March. Participants include forces from Canada, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the USA.

A Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transport also involved in the exercise crashed into a Swedish mountain on 15 March, killing all five people onboard.

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