Bids sought for aircraft carrier on MoD website

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain, under pressure to raise money to cut a record peacetime budget deficit, has put an old aircraft carrier up for sale on a government website, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on Tuesday.

The HMS Invincible sits docked on the Hudson River upon arriving in New York July 1,2004. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The ministry is inviting bids for the Invincible, which saw action in the 1982 Falklands war, on its “disposal services” website, set up to sell surplus military equipment.

The ship, completed in 1980, was part of a British task force sent to recover the Falklands in 1982 after the islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina, were occupied by Argentinean forces.

Prince Andrew served as a helicopter pilot on the ship during that conflict.

The Invincible was decommissioned and mothballed in 2005.

Bidders have until January 5 to make an offer, the Ministry of Defence said.

“We will then consider which gives the best value for money,” a ministry spokesman said. All options were open but the ship would most likely be sold for scrap, he said.

He could not estimate how much the carrier might be worth.

Under deep defence cuts announced by the government last month, the Royal Navy’s flagship, the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, will be scrapped, leaving Britain unable to fly fixed-wing jets from an aircraft carrier until new carriers are delivered over the next decade.

The 37 billion pound defence budget will shrink by 8 percent in real terms over the next four years as part of government cuts designed to curb a budget deficit that peaked at 11 percent of economic output.

Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Andrew Roche