Aircraft carrier offers free entry on closing weekend

Members of the public will get a last chance to say farewell to HMS Ark Royal this weekend. The 20,000-ton aircraft carrier will be open to visitors in Portsmouth from midday until 4pm on Saturday and 10am to 3pm on Sunday.

Entry will be free, but will be on a first come first served basis and long queues are expected. Ark Royal, which saw active service in the Al Faw peninsular off Iraq during the conflict in 2003, has been retired several years early as a result of the recent Strategic Defence Review.

She was the last British aircraft carrier to operate Harrier jets, and sailed into Portsmouth for the final time last month. To mark her retirement some 250 members of her crew will march through the city on Saturday morning before attending a service of thanksgiving for her 25-year career.