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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's Ministry of Defense (MoD) has put an aircraft carrier up for sale on an official used equipment website.
The Royal Navy aircraft carrier Ark Royal was taken out of service earlier this year as part of government budget cuts. It was decommissioned in Portsmouth earlier this month, and is up for sale on www.edisposals.com, a website run by the MoD's Defense Equipment and Support (DE&S) arm.
Individuals and organizations interested in purchasing the former flagship of the Royal Navy -- which was launched by Queen Elizabeth in 1981 -- have to submit their proposals for the ship to the MoD for approval.
"We need to be assured of the viability of the person or organization...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 Monday.
Proposals for the aircraft carrier -- which travelled 621,551 nautical miles over the course of its career -- include mooring it in London for use as a helipad.
Interested parties have until June 13 to submit their bids and 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."
HMS Ark Royal played a crucial role in the NATO campaign during the conflict in Bosnia and was also involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
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.
Editing by Paul Casciato