A former Royal Navy crewman is heading out to India for a special service for an aircraft carrier close to his heart.
Stephen Robertson, of Newbiggin, is one of 18 former crewmen invited out to India for the decommissioning service of the HMS Hermes.
The aircraft carrier played a major role in the Falklands War before it was sold to India in 1986.
Stephen was part of the crew involved during the War in 1982, just months after he joined the Royal Navy.
He flew out to India today (Thursday) ahead of the special ceremony in Mumbai on Monday, and is delighted to know that although it is being decommissioned, HMS Hermes is to be turned into a museum.
Stephen, who left the Royal Navy in 1988, said: “I was only 19 when I served on her during the Falklands.
“There are 18 former crewmen going over, eight of us signed up to the Royal Navy at the same time and worked in the same department.
“I’m the only one from the North East going.
“I was quite surprised and honoured to receive the invite. It will be a privilege to see the old lady again.
“I came off the ship in 1982 after the War but it will still be an honour to attend her last service.
“She is going to be preserved as a museum in India, it is good that she is not going to the scrapyard.”
Stephen, who is now a HGV driver working for Fergusons of Blyth, added: “It will be good to see my ex-Navy colleagues again. I do stay in touch with most of them but it will be good to see the others.”
HMS Hermes was launched in 1954 and is in the Guinness World Records for the longest serving aircraft carrier before being sold to India in 1986.