September 7, 2009: The British carrier, HMS Ark Royal, returned to service after seven months in the shipyard for $20 million worth of repairs and upgrades. The Ark Royal also had a $47 million refit in 2006, and a more extensive, $210 million one, in 1999-2001, that resulted in a larger flight deck. The Ark Royal will remain in service until the first of the two Queen Elizabeth carriers enters service. This may not happen for another decade. The Queen Elizabeths have been in the works since the late 1990s.
The 22,000 ton Ark Royal entered service in 1985. It carries 24 aircraft and helicopters, and is operated by a crew of 1,100. The most notable aspect of the refit was the addition of accommodations for 400 marines. This makes the Ark Royal into an amphibious carrier, and can deliver the marines via helicopter, or boats.