BMT Nigel Gee and Sigmund Yacht Design have redesigned the soon-to-be-retired Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious as a superyacht for the nation. The UK Ministry of Defence has already stated that the ship will be preserved after leaving service next year and has invited proposals from a range of organisations, including private sector companies, charities and trusts on what to do with her. “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,” says James Roy, yacht design director at BMT Nigel Gee.
The most identifiable aspects of HMS Illustrious have become key points in the new design. Inspiration for the triple forms placed on the deck has come from the sails of historic clipper ships that did so much to drive Britain as a trading nation. The famous forward ‘ski-jump’ ramp is preserved and it is imagined that tilt-rotor aircraft and helicopters will still use the flight deck as it should be. A big space aft is given over to a pool. “Our design is a brave interpretation of such a distinguished vessel, stating boldly her new purpose, while paying respect to her impressive heritage. The design concept provides an opportunity to extend the life of the vessel well into the foreseeable future,” says Peter Symonds, owner of Sigmund Yacht Design.
Commissioned in 1982, Illustrious has been at the core of the Royal Navy’s fleet and has seen action in time of conflict and disaster relief. Most recently, she has served in delivering humanitarian relief to the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan. Her decommissioning follows that of Ark Royal in 2011, which was subsequently scrapped. Illustrious is the sole remaining carrier of the Invincible class characterised by that ski-jump flight deck ramp.