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Long queue of visitors to tour Illustrious

Hundreds of people queued at Valletta Waterfront today and yesterday to tour the British helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious.

They were able to take a close up view of the Merlin, Sea King and Apache helicopters lining the flight deck as well as the light weapons used by the Royal Marine unit on board.

Illustrious sailed in on Monday and leaves tomorrow.

Some of the carrier's crew this morning visited the Maritime Museum, where they were told that Heritage Malta has made a formal request to be given the ship's bell of the former HMS Illustrious. The bell is carried on the present Illustrious, and Heritage Malta is asking the naval authorities to donate it to Malta once the ship is decommissioned in 2014. 

The former Illustrious was bombed and heavily damaged during Malta convoys and sought shelter for emergency repairs in Grand Harbour in January 1941. A special 'box barrage' of anti-aircraft guns saved the ship but the bombing devastated Senglea.

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