British Aircraft Carrier to Become Hong Kong Casino?

Having been decommissioned in March due to defence cuts, Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal may become a floating casino off Hong Kong, according to The Sun:

Defence chiefs are said to be considering the proposal of former dim sum chef Kin Bong Lam, which includes an offer of £5million.

Other proposals for the vessel include turning it into a heliport for London bankers on the Thames, an aviation museum or a base for deep-sea diving.

Lam, chairman of the Wing Wah restaurant empire, lives in Birmingham with his wife Dorian Chan.

As an alternative to his casino proposal, Lam — who also runs import and export, yachting and property investment businesses in China — said Ark Royal could be used as a floating college for language students from the Far East in Liverpool.

The offer for HMS Ark Royal follows an unsuccessful bid in January for its sister ship, HMS Invincible, which was ultimately sold to a Turkish scrapyard. From The Telegraph:

Built in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, the Invincible was decommissioned in 2005, 28 years after it was launched, and had been expected to be snapped up for its substantial scrap value.

But Mr Lam hopes to moor the vessel at a marina in China, where it would host an international school, or to tow it to Liverpool if permission to take the ship to China is withheld.

In a statement issued on his behalf, the 48-year-old said his favoured option would be to locate the carrier in Zhuhai, near Hong Kong, saving the ship from being scrapped. Mr Lam, who owns businesses including restaurants and a yacht-building firm in China and Britain, added that the Invincible would host a Chinese educational institute if it found a new home on the Mersey.

“Liverpool has a very strong Chinese influence,” he said. “We would be teaching in Chinese, helping anybody understand Chinese language, business and culture.”

Even then, the casino carrier idea was not novel; Macau’s “King of Gambling” Stanley Ho reportedly had similar plans for the ex-Soviet ship ‘Varyag’, which has instead been incorporated into the PLA Navy.

May 30, 2011 2:20 PM
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