HMS Illustrious, the Royal Navy aircraft carrier, caused a stir when she was spotted off the North-East coast tonight.

The carrier, known affectionately as 'Lusty' left Rosyth in Scotland earlier this week after a 40m refit and is currently undergoing sea trials, en route to Portsmouth.

She was spotted off the coast at Tynemouth by Peter Troy from Sedgefield who said: "She's surprisingly close in and looks absolutely splendid in the evening sunlight."

The work carried out included applying 540,000 litres of paint to the ship, including a fuel-efficient outer hull coating that will save tonnes of fuel and CO2 emissions over her remaining life, installing reverse osmosis fresh water-making systems, the installation of a new computer and communications system and a defensive anti-torpedo system, improvements to the living conditions for the crew and any embarked troops.