Illustrious book to hit the shelves

The full story of Britain’s last ‘Harrier carrier’ is told for the first time in print this month when a book celebrating the career of HMS Illustrious is launched.

Maritime author and photographer Richard Johnstone-Bryden – behind praised histories of the Royal Yacht Britannia, Ark Royal IV (ofSailor fame) and wartime destroyer HMS Cavalier – charts the full and varied life of Lusty from her birth in the late 1970s through peace, war, evacuations and humanitarian operations to her decommissioning in the summer of 2014.

Working with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the author has ploughed through the archives for hitherto-unseen photographs, documents and reports.

He’s also interviewed former crew from every one of her COs down to the junior ratings, personnel from the embarked air squadrons, and the men who toiled to build her on the Tyne at the Swan Hunter yard 35 years ago.

Some of those interviewees will be among the guests at an official launch for the book at the Princess Royal Gallery in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Monday September 21.

The book – HMS Illustrious (V), 1982-2014 – will be available from the museum shop and website at and via stores such as Maritime Books and Nauticalia, priced £25.

As for Lusty herself, she remains in Portsmouth Naval Base while awaiting a decision on her fate.