HMS Illustrious team to work on bringing aircraft carrier to Hull
A PROJECT team is being assembled to examine the feasibility of bringing HMS Illustrious to Hull as a new tourist attraction.
The Royal Navy is set to decommission its oldest aircraft carrier next year.
The Ministry of Defence says it wants to hear from organisations interested in maintaining the ship.
Now, a project team is being recruited to see if Hull could become the permanent home for the carrier.
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Strong support for the proposal was given at a briefing for city leaders hosted by University of Hull vice-chancellor Callie Pistorious earlier this week.
He said: "I have always said we needed to find out whether people thought this was a good idea before we looked at whether it was a workable idea.
"I think we have now established that people think it's a good idea.
"We now need to hear from people who might be able to contribute in some way.
"Eventually we will need a more structured organisation but the call is out there for people to get involved."
Professor Pistorious, who came up with the original idea to make a pitch for the 22,000-tonne vessel, said it had the potential to turn Hull into a major tourist destination while creating new jobs and investment.
Retired Rear Admiral Bob Cooling, a former Commanding Officer on Illustrious, said: "It strikes me the opportunity to place this city among the top three national centres for maritime significance is a realistic goal."
He said he had already volunteered to act as Hull's "unofficial military attache" as part of the project team.
With no other UK city yet to announce any firm interest, he said: "We are in a great position to steal a march on any other potential candidates."
One of the ideas is to combine the carrier's story with the history of naval aircraft-building in Brough.
Professor Robert Blackburn, whose late grandfather established the Blackburn aircraft factory in Brough, said: "This is not just a good idea, it's an absolutely brilliant one. Any support we can offer will be given."
City council leader Councillor Steve Brady said the authority was right behind the bid.
He said: "It is great that the University of Hull is playing its part in trying to regenerate this city. The links between the university and the council are first-class and we intend to carry on that association.
"We are totally behind this scheme and will be supporting it all the way."
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