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        Name of vessel
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        HMS Illustrious crest

        HMS Illustrious

        HMS Illustrious is the UK’s High Readiness Helicopter and Commando Carrier. This means that Illustrious can fulfil multiple taskings as demanded by higher authority. Duties could include the use of helicopters such as Merlin, Sea King, Lynx or Apache and Royal Marines Commandos.

        Illustrious and her Ship’s Company are fully prepared to respond to global operations at extremely short notice. HMS Illustrious remains at five days notice to deploy as part of the Reaction Force Task Group (RFTG).

        2013 was an action packed year for Illustrious seeing her visit a number of UK destinations including Liverpool, London and Dublin; before sailing for Exercise Cougar 14 in August.

        HMS Illustrious deployed east of Suez with the UK Response Force Task Group, however she was diverted to the Philippines to help in the Humanitarian Aid effort.

        The veteran carrier took over from HMS Daring, delivering debris clearance supplies, food, fresh water and helping to restore essential services and amenities on islands scattered around the Visayan Sea, which bore the full brunt of Haiyan.

        Along with her Carrier Air Group of 7 embarked helicopters, J Company 42 Commando Royal Marines and 24 Commando Royal Engineers worked alongside her crew of approximately 650 men and women to help with the relief mission.

        She returned home on 10 Jan 14 for some maintenance.

        Illustrious has now sailed for Exercise Joint Warrior 141.

        Exercise Joint Warrior, held in the spring and autumn of every year, is a multi-national exercise which takes place off the coast of Scotland providing high quality tactical training for the three UK armed forces, as well as visiting units from allied nations including the US, France, Denmark, Turkey and the Netherlands. The exercise allows armed forces to practise vital skills needed in modern conflicts.

        Embarked in Illustrious for the duration of the exercise until mid-April, are 40 Commando D Company Royal Marines, 845 and 820 Naval Air Squadron; as well as 18 and 27 Squadron Royal Air Force.  


        Mike Utley

        Commander Sea Training, HMS Portland
        Military experience

        Mike Utley was born in Cardiff and educated at Cowbridge School; he joined the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer in 1988. After basic training at Britannia Royal Naval College he completed professional and specialist courses before joining HMS Jupiter for a short first appointment. Having successfully completed Frigate Navigating Officer’s Course, he went onto serve in HM Ships Jersey and Cardiff as the Navigating officer before joining HMS Exploit as the Commanding Officer in 1995.

        Heading back to training as a Principal Warfare Officer in 1998, he joined HMS Norfolk as the Operations and Gunnery Officer in 1999. Selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander, he completed his first short staff appointment as the Requirements Manager to the Naval Electronic Warfare Integrated Project Team, before joining HMS Leeds Castle as the Commanding Officer in 2002, where he also acted as the Maritime Component Commander for the South Atlantic Joint Operating Area. On his return to the UK he assumed command of the new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel, HMS Tyne.

        Returning ashore in 2005, he spent only a short time as one of the Warfare Officers’ Career Managers, before being selected for promotion to Commander and further sea command of HMS Portland. This appointment included a deployment to Atlantic Patrol Task (North), where the Ship successfully captured over 5 tonnes of cocaine and commanded the United Kingdom’s hurricane disaster relief operation in Belize (2007).

        Completing Advanced Command and Staff Course in 2009, he gained a MA in Defence Studies from King’s College London. On completion of his studies he was selected as Commander Sea Training where he spent the next 18 months responsible for the delivery of sea training to Royal Navy and Foreign warships both in UK waters and deployed on operations.

        In 2011 he joined a small team in MOD working within Defence Operational Capability; he was lead desk officer for the ‘live’ lessons study into operations in Libya throughout his short tenure. Selected as the first Commander to attend the Royal College of Defence Studies in 2011, he studied strategy and its application before assuming responsibility for inter-agency operational liaison on the River Thames during the Olympics.

        Captain Utley assumed command of HMS Illustrious on completion of professional courses in May 2013. A dedicated family man and avid supporter of Welsh rugby; he also enjoys sea fishing and riding his motorbike in any spare time available.




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        14 April 2014

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        14 April 2014

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        09 April 2014

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        Illustrious develops her future leaders
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        31 March 2014

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        Operation Exercise Joint Warrior 141

        CURRENT STATUS: active

        Joint Warrior (JW) Exercises are planned and conducted by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) based at Headquarters Northwood. JTEPS which is a joint organisation parented by both HQ Air Command & Navy Command (NCHQ).

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        HMS Illustrious


        HMS Illustrious HISTORY

        • The First Illustrious

          We are the fifth ship in the Royal Navy to carry the name Illustrious. Our lineage goes back to 1789 and a 74-gun battleship which fought in the French Revolutionary Wars. She was damaged during the Battle of Genoa in 1795 and later wrecked, although all her crew survived.

        • Battle Honours

          Genoa 1795

        • The Second Illustrious

          The second Illustrious was launched in 1803 and was a 74 gun third rate. She was an active warship for the first half of the 19th Century, seeing action in European and Far Eastern waters. In 1854 she turned into a training ship before being broken up in 1868.

        • Battle Honours

          Basque Roads 1809

        • The Third Illustrious

          Illustrious No.3 was a Majestic-class battleship of 1896 – in her day the largest and most powerful warship in the world. After service in the Mediterranean and home waters, she was pressed into service in the first 15 months of World War 1 as a guardship on the east coast, notably Tyneside and the Humber. She was finally stripped of her guns and turned into an ammunition ship, she was scrapped in 1920.

        • Battle Honours

          Taranto 1940 Mediterranean 1940-41

        • The Fourth Illustrious

          By far the most famous Illustrious is the fourth, a WW2 aircraft carrier which saw extensive combat in the Mediterranean and Far East. She served as the launchpad for the Taranto raid which saw a handful of Swordfish bombers cripple the Italian Fleet in harbour – a deed which is celebrated annually to this day aboard the latest Illustrious. Two months after that raid she was badly damaged by Stuka dive bombers off Italy, and further damaged during repairs in Malta. She had to retire to the USA for repairs.

        • Battle Honours

          Diego Suarez 1942

        • Return to service

          When she returned to the war effort, her aircraft supported the Allied occupations of Vichy French islands in the Indian Ocean, then took part in the invasion of Sicily. She spent the final 18 months of World War 2 in the Far East, launching strikes at Japanese-held oil refineries at Palembang – one of the most celebrated attacks in Fleet Air Arm history – and Okinawa, during which she was attacked and damaged by kamikazes.

        • Battle Honours

          Salerno 1943

        • Battle Honours

          Sabang 1944

        • Battle Honours

          Palembang 1945 Okinawa 1945

        • Training Ship

          She was repaired and refitted and used as a training and trials ship before being paid off in 1954 and broken up three years later.

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