HMS Invincible (R05)

HMS Invincible was the Royal Navy's lead ship of the three light aircraft carriers in her class. She was launched on 3 May 1977 as the seventh ship to carry the name. She was original designated as a anti-submarine warfare carrier, but was used as an aircraft carrier during the Falklands War, when she was deployed with HMS Hermes. She took over as flagship of the British fleet when Hermes was sold to India. Invincible was also deployed in the Yugoslav Wars and the Second Gulf War (Iraq War). In 2005, she was decommissioned and eventually sold for scrap to the Turkish company Leyal Ship Recycling in February 2011.[5]

HMS Invincible During T200 Celebrations MOD 45144681 (cropped)
HMS Invincible in 2005
United Kingdom
Ordered: 17 April 1973
Builder: Vickers Shipbuilding Limited, Barrow-in-Furness, England
Laid down: July 1973
Launched: 3 May 1977
Sponsored by: Queen Elizabeth II
Commissioned: 11 July 1980
Decommissioned: 3 August 2005
Homeport: HMNB Portsmouth
Nickname(s): "Vince"[1]
Fate: Scrapped[2]
Badge: Badge of HMS Invincible (R05)
General characteristics
Class and type: Invincible-class aircraft carrier
Tonnage: 16,000 tonnes (light)[3]
Displacement: 22,000 long tons (22,000 t) fully loaded
Length: 689 ft (210 m)
Beam: 118.1 ft (36.0 m)
Draught: 28.9 ft (8.8 m)
Speed: 28 knots (52 km/h), 18 knots (33 km/h) cruising
Range: 7,000 nautical miles at 18 knots (13,000 km at 33 km/h)
Complement: 1,051 total, including 726 ship's company and 384 Air Group personnel
Aircraft carried:


As built, Invincible was 677 feet (206.3 m) long overall and 632 feet (192.6 m) between perpendiculars, with a beam of 90 feet (27.4 m) at the waterline and 115 feet (35.1 m) at flight deck level, and a draught of 24 feet (7.3 m) at full load. Displacement was 16,000 long tons (16,000 t) standard and 19,500 long tons (19,800 t) full load.[6] The ship was powered by four Rolls-Royce Olympus TBM3 gas turbines, with a maximum total continuous power of 94,000 shaft horsepower (70,000 kW). These drove two propeller shafts via reversible gearboxes, giving a maximum speed of 28 knots (32 mph; 52 km/h). The ship had a range of 5,000 nautical miles (5,800 mi; 9,300 km) at 18 knots (21 mph; 33 km/h).[7]

Invincible's flight deck was 550 feet (167.6 m) long and 55 feet (17 m) wide. It was connected to the ship's hangar by two lifts, with dimensions of 54 feet 8 inches (16.66 m) x 31 feet 8 inches (9.65 m) and rated to carry aircraft with a weight of 35,000 pounds (15,900 kg). The hangar itself was 500 feet (152.4 m) long, with width varying between 74 feet (22.6 m) and 40 feet (12.2 m) and a height of 20 feet (6.1 m).[7] An upward-curved Ski-jump ramp at an angle of 6.5 degrees was fitted at the forward end of the ship's flight deck, this allowed the carrier's Sea Harriers to take off with a higher disposal payload, while shortening the take-off run, leaving more space for helicopter operations.[8] The ship had a design air wing of 10 Westland Sea King anti-submarine helicopters and 8 British Aerospace Sea Harrier STOVL jet fighters.[9]

As built, defensive armament consisted of a twin Sea Dart Surface to air missile launcher in the ship's bows.[6] 22 Sea Dart missiles were carried.[10][11] A Type 1022 long-range air-search radar was mounted above the ship's bridge, with Type 909 fire control directors for the Sea Dart system mounted at the fore and aft end of the ship's superstructure. A Type 992 air-surface search radar was mounted on the ship's mainmast, while a Type 1006 navigation radar was also fitted. Type 184 medium range sonar was also fitted.[6][12][a]


In September 1982, after returning from the Falklands War, Invincible had her close-in armament supplemented by two Phalanx CIWS and two Oerlikon 20 mm anti-aircraft autocannons.[13][14] She underwent a major refit in 1986–1989, with several changes to increase the ship's efficiency in operating aircraft. The angle of the ship's ski-jump was increased to 12 degrees, with her hangar modified to allow more aircraft (nine Sea Harriers and twelve Sea Kings) to be accommodated below.[13][15] The ship's overall length increased to 685.8 feet (209.0 m). Additional command facilities were fitted and accommodation for another 120 people (aircrew and command staff) was added.[16] The ship's Magazines were enlarged, allowing Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles for the carrier's Sea Harriers to be carried, while also increasing the number of torpedoes carried for the ship's helicopters. Three Thales 30 mm Goalkeeper CIWS replaced the Phalanxes. Type 996 air-sea search radar replaced the Type 992 radar, with Type 2016 sonar replaced the Type 184.[13][15] In 2000, Invincible was subject to further modifications to allow her to operate Harrier GR.7s in the ground-attack role. The Sea Dart launcher was removed, while the ship's flight deck was enlarged.[16]


Invincible was ordered from Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering on 17 April 1973, and was laid down at Vickers' Barrow-in-Furness on 17 April 1973. The ship's construction was delayed by design changes and industrial action, and Invincible was not launched until 3 May 1977.[9] She was accepted into Royal Navy service on 19 March 1980 and after trials, formally commissioned on 11 July 1980. More trials and work-up followed for the ship and her air wing followed before she was declared operational on 19 June 1981,[7] joining the fleet's other carrier Hermes in service.

Invincible's initial air wing consisted of 801 Naval Air Squadron, equipped with five Sea Harriers and 820 Naval Air Squadron, equipped with Sea King anti-submarine helicopters.[17] In August–September 1981, Invicible took part in the NATO naval exercises "Ocean Venture" and "Ocean Safari".[7][18]

Proposed sale and Falklands War

Invincible 1982
Invincible in the South Atlantic, during the Falklands War
Invincible returns to the Solent
Invincible returns to the Solent after the Falklands War

On 25 February 1982, after several months of negotiations, the Australian government announced that it had agreed to buy Invincible for £175 million (285 million A$)[b] as a replacement, under the name HMAS Australia, for the Royal Australian Navy's HMAS Melbourne. Australia planned to make minimal changes to the carrier, adding more fuel and replacing some of the ship's computers. Initially at least, it was planned to operate helicopters only.[20][19] The sale was confirmed by the Ministry of Defence.[21]

On 2 April 1982, however, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. Three days later, a naval task force headed by Invincible and Hermes left HMNB Portsmouth bound for the South Atlantic and, on 20 April, the British war cabinet ordered the repossession of the Islands. Along with eight Sea Harriers, the Invincible's airgroup included twelve Sea King helicopters that were slightly larger than the ship had originally been designed to accommodate. Small machine guns were added around the flight deck and island for close-in defence.

On 23 April, while en route from Ascension Island to the Falklands, Invincible mistakenly locked her Sea Dart missile system on a VARIG Brazilian Airlines DC-10 rather than on the Argentine Air Force Boeing 707 that had been monitoring the fleet's movements.[22] The previous day, Task Group Commander Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward had sought permission from Commander-in-Chief Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse to shoot down the 707[23] as he believed its activity indicated a raid would be launched from the Argentine aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo. As the 707 would be no direct threat to the fleet, Woodward ordered Weapons Tight[23] and the continued tracking of the aircraft's course while a Sea Harrier was dispatched to investigate. The Harrier pilot reported that "it was a Brazilian airliner, with all the normal navigation and running lights on." Details of the Harrier interception appeared in the Brazilian press along with the claim that the DC-10's passengers were "alleged to have been frightened" and Woodward's comment that "[i]nconvenience to passengers' underwear regretted unless any of them were Argentinian".[22]

On 1 June, the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, advised the British government that the sale of Invincible to Australia could be cancelled if desired. In July 1983, a year after the end of the Falklands conflict,[24] the Ministry of Defence announced that it had withdrawn its offer to sell Invincible so it could maintain a three-carrier force.[25]

Although Argentina claimed to have damaged the ship during the conflict,[26] this was denied by the British government and no evidence of any such damage has been produced or uncovered.[27][28]


In December 1983, Invincible was refused the use of dry dock facilities in Sydney when the Royal Navy declined to divulge to the Australian authorities whether or not the ship was carrying nuclear weapons.[29]

Between 1993 and 1995, Invincible was deployed in the Adriatic for Operation "Deny Flight" and then Operation "Deliberate Force" during the Yugoslav Wars. In 1997, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Alan West, Commander UK Task Group, Invincible led a deployment that included 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. During the following two years, Invincible contributed to Operation "Bolton" (part of Operation "Southern Watch") in southern Iraq before she was redeployed to the Balkans to support the NATO action against Yugoslavia over Kosovo.[30] There, while her helicopters aided refugees, her Harriers were involved in military strikes.

In 2003, Invincible featured in a skit of the BBC show Top Gear involving The Stig racing a white Jaguar XJS known as "The Top Gear Jag" on the deck in an attempt to reach 100 mph and stop before the end of the runway. The attempt failed, resulting in The Stig and the Jaguar ending up in the sea. Jeremy Clarkson ended the show holding one of The Stig's gloves, claiming that it was all the salvage crew found of The Stig. The old Stig was replaced by the first White Stig in the next episode. The car was driven up to the ramp on the flight deck then on the following day the car was propelled of the ramp using a high pressure air rig. The vehicle was never recovered

BAe Sea Harrier FA2
A Sea Harrier FA2 on the deck of Invincible


On 6 June 2005, the British Ministry of Defence announced that Invincible would be inactive until 2010 but available for reactivation at eighteen months' notice. She was decommissioned on 3 August 2005, twenty months after an extensive refit that had been intended to give her ten more years of service.[31] Illustrious succeeded her as the service's flagship. The Royal Navy maintained that Invincible could have been deployed had the need arisen and that Navy policy assumed she was still an active aircraft carrier. According to Jane's, however, Invincible had been stripped of some parts for her sister ships, so operational readiness would require not only eighteen months but also the replacement or removal of systems from those other ships.

In March 2010, Invincible was tied up and minimally maintained with other decommissioned ships up-river of HMNB Portsmouth. On 10 September 2010, she was struck off the Naval Reserve List[32] and, in December, offered for sale by the Disposal Services Authority (DSA) with tenders due by 5 January 2011.[2][33] The DSA tender documents confirmed that the ship's engines had been removed and that its generators and pumps were "generally unserviceable or not working".[2] On 8 January 2011, the British press relayed an earlier report in the South China Morning Post that a £5-million bid had been made for the ship by the UK-based Chinese businessman Lam Kin-bong with plans to moor her at Zhuhai or Liverpool as a floating international school. In light, however, of China's re-arming of the Varyag – bought under a similar pretext – and the EU arms embargo on China, doubts were raised as to whether such a sale would go ahead.[34]

A month later, in February 2011, BBC News reported that the Ministry of Defence had announced the sale of Invincible to Leyal Ship Recycling in Turkey. She was towed out of Portsmouth on 24 March[35] and arrived at Leyal's Aliağa yard on 12 April 2011 for scrapping.[36] By June 2011, work was underway to break up the ship.[37]

Weapons and aircraft

Sea-dart DN-SN-90-08592
Invincible's Sea Dart.

Invincible initially lacked any close-in weapon systems. As one of the lessons from the Falklands War Invincible had two 20 mm Raytheon Phalanx close-in weapon systems fitted but these were later upgraded to three Thales 30 mm Goalkeeper CIWS; there are also two Oerlikon 20 mm cannons. Countermeasures were provided by a Thales jamming system and ECM system, Seagnat launchers provide for chaff or flare decoys. Initially the carriers were armed with a Sea Dart SAM missile system, but this was removed to enlarge the flight deck and to allow magazine storage and deck space for Royal Air Force Harrier GR7s.

After the various refits, the carrier's air group grew from the original planned 5 Sea Harriers and 9 Sea Kings to nine Sea Harrier or Harrier GR7/9s and twelve helicopters (usually all Sea Kings, either anti-submarine warfare (ASW) or Airborne Early Warning (AEW) variants). Alternative airgroups were occasionally tested with 16 Harriers and 3 helicopters being embarked. The carrier was equipped with flagship facilities and could provide an operational headquarters for Royal Navy task forces. The runway was 170 metres (560 ft) long and included the ship's characteristic ski jump (initially at an angle of 7°, but later increased to 12°).

Commanding officers


  1. ^ Invincible was the first ship fitted with Type 1022 radar.[6]
  2. ^ This sum, which was to be payable to two installments, £90 million in 1982 and the remaining £85 million in 1983, was the direct purchase cost for the ship itself. Spare parts, support costs and a pre-sale refit were expected to push total costs to £295 million.[19]


  1. ^ "Sea Harriers still in business". Navy News. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  2. ^ a b c "Sale By Tender - HMS Invincible". Disposal Services Authority. Archived from the original on 1 December 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  3. ^ "Invincible Recycling Report" (PDF). DE&S. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  4. ^ The Big Interview: Admiral Sir Alan West
  5. ^ "HMS Invincible sold for scrap to Turkish ship recyclers". BBC News. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d Gardiner & Chumbley 1995, p. 501
  7. ^ a b c d Hobbs 1996, p. 125
  8. ^ Brown & Moore 2012, pp. 69–70
  9. ^ a b Moore 1979, p. 594
  10. ^ Brown & Moore 2012, p. 68
  11. ^ Couhat & Baker 1986, p. 180
  12. ^ Couhat & Baker 1986, pp. 180–181
  13. ^ a b c Hobbs 1996, p. 126
  14. ^ Moore 1985, p. 620
  15. ^ a b Prézelin & Baker 1990, p. 696
  16. ^ a b Saunders 2002, p. 770
  17. ^ Sturtivant & Ballance 1994, pp. 130, 198, 393
  18. ^ "Anti-submarine exercise Ocean Venture successful". Flight International. Vol. 120 no. 3779. 10 October 1981. pp. 1046–1047. ISSN 0015-3710.
  19. ^ a b "Invincible sets sail for Australia". Flight International. Vol. 121 no. 3800. 6 March 1982. p. 528. ISSN 0015-3710.
  20. ^ "Sea Harrier Down Under". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
  21. ^ Bloom, Bridget; Newby, Patricia (26 February 1982). "Protest as Australia buys UK carrier". Financial Times. The Financial Times Limited. p. 4.
  22. ^ a b Lawrence Freedman, Official History of the Falklands Campaign, Volume 2 (ISBN 978-0-415-41911-6), p. 223–224.
  23. ^ a b Admiral Sandy Woodward, One Hundred Days (ISBN 978-0-00-713467-0), p. 143–145. The aircraft had been nicknamed "the Burglar". Woodward believed he had been given permission to shoot it down if came within a certain distance of the task force and could be positively identified, although this course of action had not been confirmed.
  24. ^ The UK formally declared an end to hostilities on 20 June 1982 ("United Kingdom: Falklands Conflict - A Brief History". United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. 14 November 2006.).
  25. ^ "Invincible Sale Offer Withdrawn". Aviation Week & Space Technology. McGraw-Hill, Inc. 19 July 1982. p. 19.
  26. ^ "- Fuerza Aérea Argentina" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 28 April 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2009.
  27. ^ "Argentine Airpower in the Falklands War: An Operational View". Air and Space Power Journal. Federal Information and News Dispatch, Inc. 20 August 2002.
  28. ^ "Argentine Aircraft in the Falklands". Archived from the original on 23 February 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  29. ^ "Australia turns back British carrier". United Press International. 9 December 1983.
  30. ^ "Carrier Group Ordered Home". Navy News. June 1999. p. 4.
  31. ^ Ingham, John (2 August 2005). "Invincible docks for the last time". The Express. Express Newspapers. p. 15.
  32. ^ North West Evening Mail Archived 13 September 2014 at the Wayback Machine Barrow-built Invincible thrown out of the Navy
  33. ^ "Ex-Navy ship HMS Invincible in website auction". BBC News Online. 30 November 2010. Retrieved 30 November 2010.
  34. ^ Jonathan Watts (8 January 2011). "Chinese businessman bids £5m for HMS Invincible". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2011.
  35. ^ "HMS Invincible makes final journey to Turkish scrapyard". BBC News. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  36. ^ "Crowds gather to see Invincible towed out". Navy News. 24 March 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2011.
  37. ^ Muxworthy, John (15 June 2011). "No wonder we can't even topple a tin-pot gangster like Gaddafi: Invincible, pride of the Falklands, is broken up in knacker's yard". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2 February 2012.


  • Brown, David K.; Moore, George (2012). Rebuilding the Royal Navy: Warship Design Since 1945. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-150-2.
  • Burden, Rodney A.; Draper, Michael I.; Rough, Douglas A.; Smith, Colin R.; Wilton, David (1986). Falklands: The Air War. British Aviation Research Group. ISBN 0-906339-05-7.
  • Childs, N. (2009). The Age of Invincible. Barnsley, UK: Pen & Sword Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84415-857-7.
  • Couhat, Jean Labayle; Baker, A. D., eds. (1986). Combat Fleets of the World 1986/87. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85368-860-5.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Chumbley, Stephen, eds. (1995). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1947–1995. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-132-7.
  • Hobbs, David (1996). Aircraft Carriers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies. London: Greenhill Books. ISBN 1-85367-252-1.
  • Moore, John, ed. (1979). Jane's Fighting Ships 1979–80. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-354-00587-1.
  • Moore, John, ed. (1985). Jane's Fighting Ships 1985–86. London: Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-7106-0814-4.
  • Prézelin, Bernard; Baker, A. D., eds. (1990). The Naval Institute Guide to the Combat Fleets of the World 1990/91: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Armament. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-250-8.
  • Saunders, Stephen, ed. (2002). Jane's Fighting Ships 2002–2003. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0-7106-2432-8.
  • Sturtivant, Ray; Ballance, Theo (1994). The Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air Britain (Historians) Ltd. ISBN 0-85130-223-8.

External links

899 Naval Air Squadron

899 Naval Air Squadron was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Aircraft carrier based squadron. Latterly it was the Sea Harrier training squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton.

899 Naval Air Squadron was reformed in 1979 as the training squadron for the Sea Harrier. It was initially based at RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron) until it was decommissioned in 2005 prior to the Stand up of 800 Naval Air Squadron GR7 at RAF Cottesmore.

Argentine Army

The Argentine Army (Ejército Argentino, EA) is the land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military service of the country. Under the Argentine Constitution, the President of Argentina is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, exercising his or her command authority through the Minister of Defense.

The Army's official foundation date is May 29, 1810 (celebrated in Argentina as the Army Day), four days after the Spanish colonial administration in Buenos Aires was overthrown. The new national army was formed out of several pre-existent colonial militia units and locally manned regiments; most notably the Infantry Regiment "Patricios", which to this date is still an active unit.

As of 2019, the active element of the Argentine Army numbered some 70,000 military personnel.

Battle of San Carlos (1982)

The Battle of San Carlos was a battle between aircraft and ships that lasted from 21 to 25 May 1982 during the British landings on the shores of San Carlos Water (which became known as "Bomb Alley") in the 1982 Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas). Low-flying land-based Argentine jet aircraft made repeated attacks on ships of the British Task Force.

It was the first time in history that a modern surface fleet armed with surface-to-air missiles and with air cover backed up by STOVL carrier-based aircraft defended against full-scale air strikes. The British sustained severe losses and damage but were able to create and consolidate a beachhead and land troops.

HMAS Australia

Two ships of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have been named HMAS Australia. A third ship was to receive the name, but her transfer from the Royal Navy to the Royal Australian Navy was cancelled:

The first HMAS Australia (1911), an Indefatigable-class battlecruiser launched in 1911, shortly after the formation of the Royal Australian Navy, and sunk in 1924 in accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.

The second HMAS Australia (D84), a County-class heavy cruiser launched in 1927 and broken up in 1956.

The third HMAS Australia was intended to be renamed from the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible (R05), which the RAN intended to purchase in 1982. This sale was cancelled following the Falklands War and the 1983 Australian federal election.

HMS Invincible

Seven ships of the Royal Navy have been named HMS Invincible.

History of the aircraft carrier

Aircraft carriers are warships that evolved from balloon-carrying wooden vessels into nuclear-powered vessels carrying scores of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Since their introduction they have allowed naval forces to project air power great distances without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations.

Balloon carriers were the first ships to deploy manned aircraft, used during the 19th and early 20th century, mainly for observation purposes. The advent of fixed-wing aircraft in 1903 was followed in 1910 by the first flight from the deck of a US Navy cruiser. Seaplanes and seaplane tender support ships, such as HMS Engadine, followed. The development of flat top vessels produced the first large fleet ships. This evolution was well underway by the early to mid-1920s, resulting in the commissioning of ships such as Hōshō (1922), HMS Hermes (1924), Béarn (1927), and the Lexington-class aircraft carriers (1927).

Most early aircraft carriers were conversions of ships that were laid down (or had even served) as different ship types: cargo ships, cruisers, battlecruisers, or battleships. During the 1920s, several navies started ordering and building aircraft carriers that were specifically designed as such. This allowed the design to be specialized to their future role, and resulted in superior ships. During the Second World War, these ships would become the backbone of the carrier forces of the US, British, and Japanese navies, known as fleet carriers.

World War II saw the first large-scale use of aircraft carriers and induced further refinement of their launch and recovery cycle leading to several design variants. The USA built small escort carriers, such as USS Bogue, as a stop-gap measure to provide air support for convoys and amphibious invasions. Subsequent light aircraft carriers, such as USS Independence, represented a larger, more "militarized" version of the escort carrier concept. Although the light carriers usually carried the same size air groups as escort carriers, they had the advantage of higher speed as they had been converted from cruisers under construction.

Operation Desert Thunder

Operation Desert Thunder was a response to threats by Iraq's president Saddam Hussein to shoot down U-2 spy planes, and violate the no-fly zone set up over his country. The operation was designed to bring stability to the region by bringing in a military presence during the negotiations between Iraq and the UN over weapons of mass destruction. The name Operation Desert Thunder has been applied to the build-up of forces in the Persian Gulf region during 1998.

If an actual attack had been ordered and executed, the name would have changed to Operation Desert Viper.

In the autumn of 1997 CENTCOM established a force of 35,000 air, land, and sea forces in response to Iraq's non-compliance of UN resolutions. CENTCOM Commander-in-Chief General Anthony Zinni established a permanent Coalition/Joint Task Force (C/JTF) at Camp Doha in Kuwait under command of Lieutenant General Tommy Franks to lead this force. The coalition would consist of forces from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, United Kingdom, United States, and Kuwait.

On 18 January 1998 additional forces were brought in to support the U.S.-led coalition forces in the region. The U.S. 3d Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Georgia, deployed 4,000 personnel and 2,900 short tons of equipment on 120 aircraft. Elements of 32nd Air and Missile Defense Command and 2nd Battalion 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC) deployed to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. The 366th Air Expeditionary Wing from Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID replaced the 347th Air Expeditionary Wing of Moody AFB, Georgia on 1 April 1998 after 120 days of deployment. USS George Washington (CVN-73) joined USS Nimitz (CVN-68) (relieved on-station by USS Independence (CV-62) a few months later) in the Gulf. Combined with the British HMS Invincible (R05) and HMS Illustrious (R06), there were now 50 ships and submarines with 200 naval aircraft, a floating brigade (Army) and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in the Persian Gulf.

This combined muscle forced Saddam to back down, and the Independence returned to Yokosuka, Japan in early June 1998. In July 1998 the 3-101st Attk Avn Bn deployed two AH-64A Companies to Ali Al Salem AB to maintain a strong presence in the region. Then in November 1998, the U.S. 3d Infantry Division returned to Kuwait. Using the C/JTF already in place advanced elements of the U.S. 3d Infantry Division and 32nd Air & Missile Defense Command, Theatre Support Command, and Air Support Operations Center deployed. In addition the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force joined the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force already in place. During this build-up, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan flew to Baghdad to meet with Saddam Hussein and negotiated to allow uninterrupted inspections.

On 11 November 1998, further non-compliance by Iraq resulted in the initiation of Operation Desert Thunder. CENTCOM moved its forces into position to initiate strikes into Iraq; 2,300 additional personnel were deployed during this operation. On the evening of 15 November, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) was just minutes away from launching air strikes on targets in Iraq when Saddam Hussein again backed down.

In December 1998, Iraq again refused to allow inspections and Operation Desert Fox began. Several key Iraqi facilities and specialized equipment were destroyed during several days of air strikes including from the flight deck of USS Enterprise (CVN-65) . This set back the Iraqi ballistic missile program by several years.

 Royal Navy
 Royal Fleet Auxiliary
United Kingdom Ships Taken Up From Trade
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