Southampton yacht firm bids to refurbish former aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious

Southampton yacht firm bids to refurbish former aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious

HMS Illustrious as she led the Clipper Round the World Race yachts out of Southampton in 2011.

Nigel Gee’s outline proposal for the refit of HMS Illustrious.

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A SOUTHAMPTON yacht firm has put its name forward in a bid to refurbish a former Royal Navy aircraft carrier.

BMT Nigel Gee wants to redesign HMS Illustrious and turn it into a ship which can be used for the Commonwealth to promote trade and to help in humanitarian and disaster relief around the globe.

But at the moment the Shamrock Quay firm said its plan was just the “seed of an idea” after the Royal Navy invited proposals for the future of its former aircraft carrier.

Aside from a few outline proposals, no further design conceptions have been made.

The Ministry of Defence wants the ship to be preserved after leaving service and is seeking innovative ideas to redesign the ship.

Competition is fierce, however, as Hull City Council is one of many others to have expressed an interest in developing the vessel.

James Roy, yacht design director at BMT Nigel Gee, a subsidiary of BMT Group, said: “In recognising the importance of preserving such an iconic vessel, we came up with the idea of a Commonwealth yacht where Illustrious could serve all nations of the Commonwealth as a vehicle for promoting trade, attending international events and undertaking humanitarian and disaster relief work around the globe.”

Based in Lower William Street, BMT Nigel Gee has proposed it would work in partnership with Austrian yacht firm Sigmund Yacht Design to redesign the former Royal Navy craft.

Commissioned in 1982, HMS Illustrious has seen action both in time of conflict and disaster relief.

Most recently, she served in delivering humanitarian relief to the Philippines following the devastation inflicted by Typhoon Haiyan.

Her decommissioning follows that of Ark Royal – which BMT Nigel Gee also submitted plans for – in 2011 which was subsequently sent for scrap.

The most identifiable aspects of HMS Illustrious that made the original vessel so recognisable and innovative have now become key points in the new design.

Inspiration for the triple forms placed on the deck has come from the sails of clipper ships and present the concept with a powerful outline for all to see, as well as being elegant and very purposeful.

The sail-like turrets could house anything that requires a view – for example, meeting and function rooms and VIP accommodation.

Below deck it could be a hospital, and store vehicles and equipment to assist in disaster relief as well as more general accommodation.

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