Urgent repairs to halt the deterioration of historic World War One vessel HMS Caroline have been completed making the ship safe for the next stage of a massive restoration programme.
Repairs conducted by Belfast-based Blu-Marine included a top to bottom survey of the ship’s weakest spots, emergency repairs, removal and refurbishment of all portholes and removal of the timber decking to ensure no further water or wind ingress.
National Museum of the Royal Navy Chief of Staff Captain John Rees OBE, who has been leading the complex funding and restoration programme, says:
HMS Caroline is a living legend. We are breathing new life into what is an internationally significant piece of world history.
HMS Caroline is a world class heritage asset and the most complete ship remaining from the Grand and High Seas Fleet of some 250 vessels. We must not underestimate the value of this ship and the resonance of its history and position in Northern Ireland, so it was a matter of urgency for us to ensure the ship could survive a prolonged restoration programme undertaken with great sensitivity to its archaeology and fabric.
The vessel is the last remaining floating survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland. It has been based in Northern Ireland for over 90 years and has undergone the first stages of restoration which will eventually see it opened to the public as a world class museum and heritage visitor attraction. The opening date is due to coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Jutland on May 31 2016.
NMRN in a joint venture with Northern Ireland’s Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment initially secured £1m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to safeguard the ship, £11.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2.7m from the Northern Ireland Government to complete the restoration, preservation and interpretative work.