HMS Alliance, the only surviving British WW2era ocean going submarine has become the first accessible submarine in the world.
As part of the £7m conservation project to restore HMS Alliance back to her former glory, a lift has been installed to assist people with mobility difficulties to go on board the historic submarine.
Chris Munns, Director at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said,
“The lift can transport one person in a wheelchair safely into the after-end of HMS Alliance. From that compartment they have an excellent view through the submarine engine room towards the control room.
“It is really marvellous to be able to offer this service to our visitors and we are all very honoured at being the first submarine that can do so!”
Members of the Gosport Access & Inclusion Groups visited the Submarine Museum today to test the new lift and experience going on board HMS Alliance for the first time. They were met by a submariner who told them about the submarine and shared some of his personnel stories of life on board.
HMS Alliance was designed during WW2 for service in the Far East and was laid down in March 1945, a few months before victory was achieved. She then began a distinguished 28 year career during the Cold War until she retired in 1973 and became the centrepiece of the Submarine Museum in 1982.
HMS Alliance had suffered severe corrosion during thirty years on display to the public. The project to save HMS Alliance received a £3.4 million lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. A further £3.55 million has been donated leaving £50,000 left to raise.
As well as the physical conservation, at the heart of the project is a new education programme and dynamic interpretation scheme which will bring Alliance ‘back to life’ for all visitors.
Improvements will include dressing the accommodation spaces to reflect the decades of Alliance’s service from the 1940’s through to the 1970’s with interactive soundscapes that reflect how the submarine looked and felt whilst on operations.
HMS Alliance is currently open to visitors until the end of the year. After that the historic submarine will be closed for the final stage of conservation works and reopened for Easter 2014.
Press Release, October 25, 2013; Image: Royal Navy