The £6.5 million overhaul of HMS Alliance, the only World War II submarine open to the public in Britain, has been launched at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport.
The rusting icon, which was built in 1945 and enjoyed a distinguished 28-year service stint in the Far East during the Cold War, was given a £3.4 million Heritage Lottery Fund boost in May amid fears its corroded outer structure might fall into the sea.
It will now be reinterpreted alongside a programme of improvements to recreate its mid-20th century look, including “interactive soundscapes”, an outreach programme for the local community and an education programme.
"It is really exciting to finally be able start the actual physical work to save HMS Alliance," said Vice Admiral Sir Tim McClement, the Chairman of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.
"As the memorial to all the submariners who have fought and died in the submarine service, it is so important that she is conserved and brought to life for future generations."
The first stage of works will see a permanent hard-standing platform built underneath the Alliance, allowing workmen to tend to the outer metal casing and dramatically improve the appearance of the submarine.
"HMS Alliance is listed in the UK's historic ship's register, sitting alongside the Cutty Sark, the Mary Rose, and HMS Victory in importance," said Councillor Christopher Carter, the Mayor of Gosport.
"Her conservation for the future will continue to have a major impact for heritage and tourism in our area."
Organisers said more than £6 million in funds and pledges had been raised. Plans are in place to raise a further £1.5 million for a new Alliance gallery.
- Visit the HMS Alliance Appeal online to donate.