This film is part of Free

Farewell HMS Eagle

The aircraft carrier HMS Eagle sets out on its final journey to the breakers yard.

News 1978 1 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


HMS Eagle glides along in Plymouth Sound on its journey to the Cairnryan breakers yard near Stranraer in Scotland. The ship was towed to Devonport in 1972 and held in reserve and used as spare parts for HMS Ark Royal, flagship of the Royal Navy. On the 14 October 1978 Eagle was finally officially decommissioned. Here the vessel is on tow by the Clyde tug Rollicker assisted by two Devonport based tugs Robust and Roysterer and accompanied by well-wishing craft.

The deepwater channel for ships entering and leaving Plymouth passes right in front of the Hoe foreshore. Eagle is the sister ship to HMS Ark Royal and one of the two largest aircraft carriers in the Royal Navy's Audacious class in service from 1951 to 1972. The carrier was made by the Harland and Wolf Shipyard in Belfast and originally going to be called Audacious but was renamed Eagle and launched in 1946 becoming the fifteenth ship to hold the title. The lower hull was still being dismantled when the Ark Royal arrived in Cairnryan in 1980. Both ships took about three years to break up. The Eagle never had the newer angled filghtdecks and went through several modifications during its twenty-one years of service.