The Royal naval assault carrier HMS Illustrious (R 06) - Invincible class - has sailed into Valletta Port (the Grand Harbour) this morning on a five-day informal visit.
HMS Illustrious, commanded by Captain M. Connell, forms part of the U.K.'s Response Force Task Group (RTFG), headed by Commodore P. McAlpine, along with other five Royal Navy ships (HMS Bulwark, HMS Northumberland, HMS Montrose, RFA Mounts Bay and MV Hartland Point). All ships are taking part in a three-month training deployment to the Mediterranean, known as Cougar 12, involving more than 3,000 sailors, royal marines, soldiers and airmen.
This visit offers the opportunity for an operational stand-down for the RFTG and Illustrious will take the opportunity to re-establish the very important links with her Maltese affiliations.
HMS Illustrious currently on board ten helicopters: three Royal Navy Merlins, four Royal Navy Sea Kings and three British Army Apaches.
The British assault carrier is presently berthing alongside at Pinto-4/5 wharf. She will be open to visitor on Wednesday and Thursday between 1pm and 4pm. HMS Illustrious is expected to sail from Malta on Friday, November 23th, at 0600LT.