WWI ship sails again
The ship, which was fully restored and opened to the public on May 31 2016, through £15,086,100 backing from Heritage Lottery Fund and £4,518,000 support from Tourism NI has reopened following hull repairs conducted last winter by Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries.
A highly complex permanent mooring system was used to make the ship safe for the public and also to protect the ship from lateral movements as it floats on the rising and falling tides has been completed. Captain John Rees, OBE, Chief of Staff at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, in charge of the restoration and project work, said, “Because of the historic fabric of Alexandra Dock, which is a scheduled ancient monument, and the complications of attaching an equally important and iconic vessel which weighs more than 4,000 tonnes to it, we had to progress the project very carefully and sensitively.”
The 122m long light cruiser, built in 1914, was restored to its full glory with new decking, guns and a total refurbishment from bridge to engine rooms. Visitors are being offered a unique experience to journey back 100 years to a dangerous life at sea during World War I. The light cruiser saw action in the famous Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 in which more than 8,000 lives were lost and was the focus of international commemorations last year.
The living quarters of the captain, officers and ratings as well as the signal school, engine room, sick bay and galley any many other spaces are, once again, available to experience. These hugely atmospheric areas of the ship are largely intact from the day the ship was completed in 1914. In addition, state-of the art multi-screen video experiences reproducing the sounds and drama of the biggest naval battle ever fought, interactive installations, education suites and spaces for gala dinners and events will be open to the public.
Captain Rees said HMS Caroline stands shoulder to shoulder with the world’s most historically significant ships including Lord Nelson’s Victory and Queen Victoria’s Warrior, both of which are part of the National Museum’s fleet and on display in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
“HMS Caroline is a living legend. This is a world-class heritage asset and the only ship remaining from the Grand and High Seas Fleet of some 250 vessels,” said Captain Rees. “We must not underestimate the value of this ship and the resonance of its history and position in Northern Ireland, so it is a matter of pride for us as well as a contribution to local communities that the ship is brought back to life as a museum and visitor attraction.”
The ship is now open seven days a week until 5pm. Check www.hmscaroline.co.uk for more information and ticket prices.