Depressing Goings on in Portsmouth Naval Base

HMS Liverpool

HMS Liverpool - Image by Defence Images via Flickr

The Queens Harbour master‘s website is showing alot of goings on in Portsmouth Dockyard in the next few days.

Earlier today the Tug Vortex brought in the ex-HMS Chatham, one of the recently decomissioned Type 22 Batch 3 Frigates. Tomorrow the Tug Compass is taking out the ex-HMS Exeter, presumably to the scrapyard. Exeter, a Type 42 Destroyer, is a Falklands veteran and is probably being shifted off to make room for more new arrivals. And then on Sunday, another Tug is bringing in the ex-HMS Campbeltown, one of the sister ships of Chatham.

In the near future we can expect the other two Type 22’s to arrive – Cornwall and Cumberland – and more Type 42’s to leave for the scrapyard – Nottingham, Southampton, and Gloucester. Manchester and Liverpool won’t be far behind in the next year or two. You know it’s bad when they have to get rid of decomissioned ships to make room for yet more decomissioned ships.

In other news, apparently a group of enthusiasts in Liverpool are putting together a campaign to preserve HMS Liverpool in the city once she retires from service. As I have often said here, our record in this country for preserving modern warships is woeful. But I cannot help but think that acquiring the ship is the easy part, actually getting the money to keep her in a fit state to be a succesful visitor attraction is the difficult bit. Personally I would like to see something with some merit preserved – a Falklands veteran, for example. But it will be interesting to see how the Liverpool campaign goes.


Filed under Dockyard, Navy, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Depressing Goings on in Portsmouth Naval Base

  1. John Erickson

    Maintenance is a HUGE issue. Another one (though less likely to affect modern ships) is pre-display “clean up”. Fuels, coolants, hydraulics, lubes, all of that has to be removed. Throw in toxic materials like asbestos on older ships (most likely not a problem here) is a real hassle.
    For a US tale of good intentions gone horribly wrong, check out this link on an attempt to save the carrier USS Cabot:
    The best laid plans of naval aficionados went truly astray.

  2. x

    Liverpool has been criticised by various bodies for styling itself a maritime city and yet having no attractions afloat (or as I call them ships!)

    Neither Liverpool City Council or Merseyside County Council did much to help HMS Plymouth. And we mustn’t forget the Manxman either.

    It would be nice I suppose to preserve a T42. Even though they are ‘orid cheap ships built down to a price. But really is it worth it?

    But ship preservation doesn’t seem to popular with the British unless it is the Cutty Sark or Mary Rose. Waverly needs £380,000 worth of repairs and it will be touch and go if that raised even though she has a high profile. Poor Shieldhall requires £500,000 and I can’t see that happening at all.

  3. Sadly John is right. Ships just turn to tust without a lot of effort and expense to keep them dry and safe.

    • James Daly

      Even wooden ships are pretty difficult to maintain. Just look at the problems they have had with HMS Victory over the years. And thats even before we begin to think about the processes involved with the Mary Rose.

      Unfortunately, in preserving wooden or metal warships you are fighting completely against the elements. Wood rots, metal rusts. You can only really delay the inevitable, and with the limited resources available it is crucial to concentrate on the right ships.

  4. Which raiases the question – which ones are the right ones?

  5. James Daly

    Hmmm, good point. Can’t argue with HMS Victory, in terms of British history shes like the Great Pyramids. Warrior… again, historically she’s pretty important, and a very impressive sight on the Hard. The Mary Rose herself, for me, isn’t that big a deal, but what was inside her is like Britain’s Pompei. I’ve never understood the fuss made about the Cutty Sark. Staying in London, ideally I would have liked to have seen one of the big old warhorses of WW2 near Tower Bridge, like Warspite. But if not Belfast is a decent second best. I can’t understand why the sub museum kept Alliance – she’s falling to bits on a daily basis. Then theres the problems with Bronnington up north, and Plymouth, and I’ve got no idea what they have at Chatham now.

    There is a gap for a post-WW2 warship to be preserved somewhere, to portray the Cold War/Falklands RN. In particular a carrier I feel, which would have great potential for interpreting the Fleet Air Arm, and using the deck and hangar space creatively.

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