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All Our Yesterdays: HMS Caroline

By Paul Carson

Published 22/01/2014

A sailor rings the bell onboard the HMS Caroline. 31/12/1974
A sailor rings the bell onboard the HMS Caroline. 31/12/1974
A grand old lady on the move again, as HMS Caroline is towed by tugs into Milewater Basin. 18/8/1976
Shipwrights from Harland & Wolff relaying part of the decking of HMS Caroline, Ulster Division RNR at Milewater Basin, Belfast. 25/9/1969
Children's Christmas Party onboard the HMS Caroline. 17/12/1958
HMS Caroline being towed from Milewater Basin at Belfast docks for cleaning. 3/8/1982
Members of HMS Caroline leaving to fly from Aldergrove to Gibraltar to join HMS Kilmorey for a period of training. 7/9/1970
HMS Caroline, Ulster Division R.N. V.R. training ship. 15/10/1938
HMS Caroline to-day took her first voyage in four years when she crossed the few hundred yards of water between Milewater Basin and Alexandra Dock for refitting. tugs were used to take her across the river as she had her engines removed 30 years ago when it became a training ship for the Ulster Division. 5/1/1966
The oldest image we have on file of the HMS Caroline, at dock in Belfast. 22/5/1930.

With the announcement of the decommissioning of the HMS Caroline I decided to look through our picture archive to reflect on the Royal Navy Reserve's lastremaining man o' war.Her keel was laid in January 1914, and inside 12 months she was at sea sweeping enemy waters.

Her builders, Cammell Lairds of Birkenhead, claimed it as the fastest build of its kind. She was also the fastest ship of her type, being the first of a new type of cruiser, capable of 30 knots from her 40,000 hp turbine engines.

This turn of speed helped her survive the Battle of Jutland in 1916, after engaging a German battleship of the Deutschland class.In every respect she is a lucky ship — a quality the somewhat superstitious Navy prizes highly.

The last floating headquarters in the Reserve, she has been tethered to the quay in the MilewaterBasin, rudderless and powerless, her boiler room replaced by classrooms, and her decks stripped of the guns which had trashed the Kaiser.

She is still in incredible condition for her age, defying the seabed and the breaker’s yard for 95 years, and deserves to stay in Belfast to be made part of a maritime heritage trail in some form.By Paul Carson

Belfast Telegraph

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