Send us news by text, start your message Globe News and your send photos and videos to 80360
'Lusty' returns to Mersey today
HMS Illustrious sails up the River Mersey today for the start of a five-day visit to Liverpool.
The ship – known affectionately as Lusty to her crew – will berth alongside the Cruise Liner Terminal at around 2pm.
The last time the huge Helicopter and Commando carrier visited Liverpool was in 2010 for Fly Navy 100, a celebration of 100 years of naval aviation.
During the weekend the ship will open its doors, free of charge, to members of the public. On Saturday visitors will be able to go onboard from 10am – 4pm and on Sunday from midday to 4pm. On both days 3pm is the latest time visitors can board.
Her visit coincides with the build up among the maritime community to another historic occasion, the Battle of the Atlantic 70th anniversary, in which the Royal Navy is playing its part – along with a number of maritime partners and Liverpool City Council – in a number of commemorative events in May, starting in London, then Derry-Londonderry and culminating in the main BOA 70 focus on Liverpool over the weekend May 24-27.
The ship's commanding officer, Captain Martin Connell said: "All of us in HMS Illustrious are looking forward to visiting Liverpool and renewing our bonds with this wonderful city.
"Liverpool is a very special place for a ship such as HMS Illustrious to visit and we always receive a very warm welcome indeed.
"We hope to be able to reciprocate in some small way by opening our doors to the general public to visit on Saturday and Sunday and to meet some of our people for an insight into some of the things we do on board."
On Friday, a team of barbers from Wirral College will visit Illustrious and offer free haircuts to the crew then later an Engineering Symposium is being held in the Hangar for a number of higher education students across Merseyside.
There are also golf outings being held at a number of clubs across the area over the duration of the visit.
The last time Illustrious threw down her gangway to the public three years ago, over 8000 people took the opportunity each day to go aboard and get a unique insight into life in the Royal Navy.
Short tours for youth organisations and specialist interest groups are also arranged for Sunday morning.
HMS Illustrious leaves the city on Monday at around 4pm to return to sea and her next operational tasking.