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‘If ever anything without a soul deserved honour or affection,  Continued from page iii

estuary, she made haste for the waters off the Isle of Wight in preparation for her fi nal entry to Portsmouth. The aim was to steam ‘the wrong way’ up the Solent – past the Needles, Cowes and Gilkicker Point, while the Harriers paid a final tribute, roaring over the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour as Ark sailed in.

Instead, the ship’s company awoke on the penultimate day of Ark’s active service to find the flight deck blanketed by snow. The forecast for the following day was little better.

snow. No fly-past. Anchor at Outer Spit Buoy. Sail at 9.30am on Friday December 3 2010. Twenty minutes before weighing

anchor, the ship’s company fell in. If temperatures were above freezing, the sea fug and Arctic blast ensured it felt much colder – but not for these reasons did her men and women well up. “I had a tear in my eye when I saw all

the crowds of people out for us,” said PO Paddy Ashe, hangar PO. “Everyone is very appreciative of the

And so Plan B. Shovel off all the

effort they made to come to see us.” “I got a bit emotional especially when we got alongside and there was the Royal Marines band and all the people cheering. It makes me proud to be British.”

The senior rate has now spent his final day at sea. For his shipmates an uncertain future awaits. Many of

including her Commanding Officer – will decamp to Rosyth to join Ark’s older sister HMS Illustrious. Many more will bomb-burst around the Fleet.

her ship’s company –

Capt Kyd’s command of Ark has been brief – he only took the reins this autumn. It was still plenty of time to get to know the Mighty Ark.

“I have had the opportunity to refl ect on the honour and privilege it has been to be able to command this ship and the people within her,” he said. “The famous ‘spirit of the Ark’

we owed them here.’

dispersed entirely – the mess decks and passages will echo with Jackspeak long into 2011, for there is much to remove from Ark Royal as she de-stores. And there will be one last public outing for her men and women: a farewell

remains alive and well; I am certain that all those who move on from this ship in the coming months will spread this spirit and keep it alive wherever they go throughout the Fleet.”

Guildhall Square on Saturday January 22.

more – not under the White Ensign at any rate.

Now she belongs to the ages. parade in Portsmouth’s But Ark Royal herself will sail no His ship’s company has not yet

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