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End of an era, mighty Ark pays off.

Friday 3rd December 2010, 08:30 on a very cold morning and I've joined the first of many hardy folk who were to muster on the snow covered Round Tower at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour and also at the Hot Walls, part of the old fortifications that stretch back from the tower towards Southsea. They were there to welcome HMS Ark Royal home for the last time.

View from the Round Tower across Old Portsmouth and the Hot Walls.

Local Council staff under the arches at the entrance to the Round Tower who had chipped all of the ice and snow from the steps to the tower.

The dense mist looked as if it might be blown clear by the icy wind...

...but each time it seemed to come back thicker, this shot looking back across the harbour towards Gosport.

Now coming up to 09:20 and the Round Tower is filling up, more than a few having travelled some distance from different parts of the country.

People were also gathering on the Gosport side at HMS Dolphin...

... and the Millenium Pier at Haslar Marina. Visibility is still not great though!

At last she appears out of the mist at around 09:40 but I hadn't got into one of the best positions and those in front had been clicking away for a few minutes before I took my first shot.

Bet they're cold!

Finally she's in full view, and she looks pretty good to me.

Her Paying Off Pennant can just be made out flying from the mainmast and streaming back into the water behind her. Paying off pennants are traditionally flown from ships (commercial as well as naval) entering harbour for the last time before decommissioning. It is the length of the ship plus 1 ft for each year of service.

The forward (fwd) funnel, which carries away the exhaust from two of her four Rolls Royce "Olympus" gas turbines, marine versions of the engines that powered Concorde. The funnel badge is taken from the famous Ark Royal ships crest.

The bridge

As she goes past memories of my time onboard follow, great people and great times. Family occasions too as they were always there when we returned from long deployments, also my youngest son was christened onboard.

Not far to go now for them, families are waiting on the jetty in the dockyard. The paying off pennant can be seen more clearly in this shot.

The tugs are there to help her get alongside safely in the windy conditions.

Finally she begins to slip back into the mist again.

With Ark Royal now out of sight people start to drift away to find a bit of warmth, for me it was to a pub (there's a suprise) for a couple of pints in the pleasant company of an old shipmate last seen nearly twenty years ago!

8 people like this.

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 02:50
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Very interesting and well done, I like it.

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 06:22
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Thank You for posting these superb photo's Very sad to see our Great Naval ship on its last Journey .

Very very sad indeed

Thank you for your past service to this country .

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 06:24
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Hiyah Ken

Well there is one for the history books. I bet you were chuffed to have been here on this "sad" day. The Ark Royal looks to be a great ship, looks as good a new to me.

Thanks for putting this together. A little bit of history in the making.

Cheers

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 08:52
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Fabulous blog, I found it really interesting, there's a real piece of history there. Must've been an emotional day for all involved, well done, thanks for posting. steve.

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 09:16
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Great set of pictures, very emotional occasion. Coming from teh town which built the Invicible I understand and know how incredible these vessels are and always it's a sad day when they are retired.

Thanks for posting

Ian

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 11:17
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Fantastic blog Kev.
You must be so proud to have been part of the ships company in the past. Also left a comment on one of your other blogs, Waverley.
Can we have some more of the same in the future please, if you have the time.

Dave.

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 12:24
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A brilliant, most interesting, and a very emotional blog Kev,
You have captured a lovely set of pictures of this Iconic ship on the day it is retired, A proud day for you and your old shipmates,

Well done Kev, Thankyou for sharing your day with us.

Colin

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 12:47
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Well done on the pictures a shame the weather wasnt clearer for you, Thank you for putting it together and sharing with us.

http://www.myfinepix.com/gallery/217604

Photography, one of the few jobs where you are allowed to "shoot" people and cut their heads off.

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 15:24

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 15:38
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.......anyway look on the bright side, soon we'll have 2 brand new super carriers as bright as a new pin, one will be mothballed straight away and the other won't have any aircraft to go on it.....

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Date Sun, 05/12/2010 - 04:07
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My own opinion is that it is a grave error of judgement to leave us without seabourne fixed wing air capabilities. In recent times our carriers have played major roles in the Falklands, the Gulf and the Adriatic (Former Yugoslavia), which I don't believe could have been carried out as effectively from bases ashore, in respect of range or logistics. The need for such capabilities cannot be forecast over ten years ahead and I think that we could be faced with situations that we will not be able to respond to.

Kev.

 

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 17:40
Comment

Great blog Kev. A sad day indeed to see such a magnificent ship commissioned off. Let`s hope they don`t dismantle or sell it off, hopefully it will be made into a museum as has been mooted on the news.

Jeff.

My first competition entry here....

http://www.myfinepix.co.uk/competition/entry/308051

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 18:49
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Great blog she was on the Clyde recently but sadly I didn't
get to see her.

 

 

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 19:45
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Kev this is one memorial blog with excellent shots and a brilliant informative narrative to go along with your shots. i like Joe (above comment) did not see her recently on the CLyde. i totaly agree with you that it is a grave error to retire such a fine ship, thank you Kev for posting your great blog and shareing your day with her.
Kenny the Bolt alias the Grumpy Granda

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 20:21
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Great blog. Only us Brits could pension off an iconic ship like that and not have anything to replace it, leaving the likes of the Falklands to look after themselves if they were invaded again. Big mistake.
Mike

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 21:22
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Excellent blog. Thank you for making the effort in appaling conditions to take these photographs.

Is it just the Government who does not understand the significance of the loss of this ship. Surely it could be kept in service if all Camerons mates paid tax in the UK.

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Date Sat, 04/12/2010 - 21:50
Comment

Great blog Kev. As everyone else has said it beggars belief that it is to be retired. Some lovely photos of a great ship.
Thanks for taking the time to post this blog.
Regards Christine

Christine :)    

 http://www.myfinepix.co.uk/competition/entry/702799    Bokeh  entry

 

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Date Wed, 15/12/2010 - 11:33
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Thanks to all, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of comment that this blog attracted. To add a bit of warmth to a cold blog I found a shot by one of the ships photographic staff of the Marine Engineering Department (Stokers), taken on the flight deck, alongside at Nassau in October 1992. I'm somewhere in there.

Kev.

 

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Date Sun, 05/12/2010 - 17:07
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Wonderful photoblog Kev with some super shots. Thanks for compiling and sharing.

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Date Sun, 05/12/2010 - 20:34
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An interesting & informative blog Kev on what must've been a difficult, uncomfortable & emotional day. You certainly earned your visit to the pub with your old shipmate. Like everyone else, I just cant believe she's been decommissioned. I only hope the powers that be dont live to regret it!

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Date Tue, 15/03/2011 - 22:36
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Nice - Great Blog !!!  would you like to check out my  blogs and gallery ???

I have a new photo blog – I hope you like it:)

http://www.myfinepix.co.uk/competition/entry/248499

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http://www.myfinepix.com/gallery/389003

 

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