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August 1983 and one year on from the Falklands conflict, HMS Illustrious (R06) passes through the western entrance on a courtesy visit to Dover. Completed in 1982 she relieved HMS Invincible after the conflict ended. Offically classed as a Landing Platform Helicopter or LPH, otherwise known as a through deck cruiser, three Sea King and one Westland Wessex helicopter are ranged on the flight deck. She is escorted by an unidentified frigate as the tug Dominant or Diligent stands by. She called at the port again in 2001. HMS Illustrious is to be withdrawn in 2014 when HMS Ocean completes her refit. She faces an uncertain future as various ideas to convert her into a disaster relief ship, a visitor attraction at the port of Hull or even a commonwealth yacht have yet to come to fruition. Just as likely is a trip to Turkish breakers.
The writing on the photograph refers to an anti-clockwise circuit of the "UK flying the flag" promotional voyage she undertook in August 1983.
HMS Kent (F78) preparing to come alongside the Prince of Wales Pier in September 2012. Fresh from her £24 million refit she honoured the airmen who took part in the Second World War "Channel Dash". She was alongside for four days and was open to the public for a limited time for tours of this modern warship and to meet her crew and Commander, Ben Ripley. The "Channel Dash" or Operation Fuller, took place in March 1941, when the German Pocket Battleships Scharnhorst, Gneisnau and Prinz Eugen returned to Germany from Brest, France, supported by heavy aerial and surface units and despite valiant efforts by our Fleet Air Arm, safely made the passage home.
For more information visit the Fleet Air Arm Museum's website: