For sale: one aircraft carrier, slightly used.
Britain has put aircraft carrier Ark Royal, the former flagship of the Royal Navy, up for sale on a military auction website.
The Ark Royal was decommissioned this month, four years ahead of schedule, as part of defence spending cuts. The vessel played a crucial role in the NATO campaign during the conflict in Bosnia and was also involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The Ark Royal could be sold for scrap, but there has also been a proposal to park it on the Thames river as a heliport. Bidders have until June 13 to make an offer, and no minimum price has been set.
Ark Royal is for sale on www.edisposals.com, a website run by the MoD's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) arm and anyone interested in purchasing the former flagship of the Royal Navy - which was launched by Queen Elizabeth in 1981 - must submit their proposals for the ship to the MoD for approval.
"We need to be assured of the viability of the person or organisation...including how they intend to store, maintain and dispose of the ship before the sale can be agreed," DE&S spokesman Tim Foreman told Reuters.
The ship will be handed over to its new owner by the end of the year.
Britain's coalition government said it would axe the flagship in a defense review last year as part of its plans to cut a record budget deficit.
"HMS Ark Royal has a proud history in the naval fleet and was due to leave service in three years time. Bringing forward her decommissioning ensures we will have an enhanced carrier strike capability in the future," the MoD said in a statement.
"Until then, the UK continues to have access to a range of international bases which allow us to project our air power around the world."
It was the fifth British ship to carry the name Ark Royal. The first was built for Sir Walter Raleigh and became the flagship of the English fleet, seeing action during the Spanish Armada campaign of 1588.