HMS Ark Royal, all 20.210 tonnes of her, sailed into Palma on Sunday, not only to be greeted by scores of people, but also glorious sunshine - a far cry from the North Sea. Having recently returned to service after a refit, the aircaft carrier has been on Basic Operational Sea Training, the final part of which was carried out in the North Sea last month, so the crew will be glad to have the sunshine on their backs during their stay in Palma. She sailed in with a Sea Harrier on the ski-jump and the Merlin and Airbourne Early Warning Helicopters on deck. In her new role as a “21st Century Flagship” she is to deploy the helicopter and Harriers and a combined force. The final phase of BOST was in the North Sea which focused on tactical flying and ended last month with an Operational Readiness Inspection to ensure that the Ark Royal was ready to assume her fully operational status this month. Here in Palma, the last port of call before going in for refit six years ago and her first port of call since returning to service, the crew are already enjoying some rest and recuperation. On Sunday the Ark Royal football team took on a local side see sports and last night the British Ambassador Peter Tory and the Commanding Officer held a reception to celebrate the Golden Jubilee on board the carrier which also included a concert by the band of the Royal Marines. Apart from last night's reception, the Ark Royal will be playing a key role in the Golden Jubilee celebrations when her Majesty the Queen reviews the fleet from the carrier's flight deck. The Queen will visit Portsmouth on June 27.


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