The living legend which is a lone survivor of the Battle of Jutland will become a major public museum in Belfast
HMS Caroline, the only survivor of the Battle of Jutland, World War I’s largest naval battle, is to be reinvented as a major Northern Irish museum in a reward for a lengthy campaign by supporters to reinvigorate the vast warship.
© National Museum of the Royal Navy
Looming over Belfast Harbour for the past 90 years, the ship which began as a Greyhound of the Seas will benefit from £11.5 million in Heritage Lottery funding. Its overhaul is expected to be completed in time for the centenary of the battle, on May 31 2016.
“This is the culmination of 18 months to two years of extremely hard work,” said Captain John Rees, of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, who is Chair of the HMS Caroline Project Board.
“To know now that we can carry on – literally full-steam ahead with the conservation and interpretation of Caroline – is wonderful news.
“We are branding HMS Caroline as ‘A Lone Survivor, A Living Legend’. She is a jewel in the Titanic Quarter crown and adds enormous value to the unique visitor offer alongside Titanic Belfast, SS Nomadic, Pump House and the Thompson Dock.”
Captain Rees said the team would face a race against time to tell the full story of a ship originally noted for its rapid intelligence gathering.
Caroline became a drill ship for the Royal Naval Reserve after arriving in Belfast, serving as a command centre during World War II.
Her original compasses and telegraphs, engine rooms and quartet of turbines, living quarters used by servicemen a century ago and drill hall will be among the highlights for visitors, as well as substantially improved access facilities.
“You can already see that we’re working on the ship to ensure that the materiality of the vessel doesn’t degrade any further,” said Rees, calling the Fund’s support “simply first-rate”.
“I am thrilled that the funding is now in place and that we can now get on and deliver a world-class attraction.
“The money will now allow us to do a major conservation programme on the entirety of the ship. We’ll have the resources to actually interpret her and tell 100 years’ worth of naval history.
“The importance of Caroline is that of all the 250 ships that fought in the Battle of Jutland, you’re standing on the only survivor.
“She is truly an iconic vessel and the fact that she’s been in Northern Ireland for almost 100 years really allows the people of Ireland, ultimately, to really enjoy her.”
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