Thousands of people have turned out to say farewell to the crew of the axed aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal as they paraded through the ship’s home city.
About 250 sailors marched through Portsmouth, Hampshire, to celebrate the close affiliation between the Royal Navy’s flagship, which is being decommissioned as part of the Government’s defence review, and its home port.
A Royal Marines band led the parade which finished at the city’s Guildhall Square where a special service was held.
This was led by Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Paula Riches and ended with prayers by Ark Royal’s padre, the Rev Martin Evans.
The ceremony was attended by commanding officer (CO) Captain Jerry Kyd, and leader of Portsmouth City Council councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
Councillor Riches said: “This is a historical and moving moment and I am honoured to be here.
“We will all have fond memories of this impressive flagship and its equally impressive captain and crew.”
Capt Kyd said: “It is with equal measure of sadness and a whole lot of pride that I stand here before you as the last CO of Ark Royal.
“On behalf of Ark Royal’s men and women, past and present, and for those who have given their lives while of this great ship, we would like to say how much Portsmouth has meant to us.
“There is a very close bond between the Royal Navy and this great maritime city – Portsmouth is the navy and the men and women of Ark Royal are proud to call Portsmouth their home port.”