HMS Caroline given lottery boost
Published 09/05/2013 | 00:21
The First World War's last surviving battleship is on course to be transformed into a floating museum after provisionally securing a £12 million lottery funding boost.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy is now confident HMS Caroline will be opened as a "world class" visitor attraction ahead of the centenary of its most famous wartime engagement - the 1916 Battle of Jutland off the coast of Denmark.
The derelict vessel, which is currently docked in the same Belfast shipyards where the Titanic was built, was in danger of rusting away before moves to restore it started to build up steam last year.
The Heritage Lottery Fund gave initial approval to a £12.2 million funding application to finance the restoration - the largest ever commitment made by the HLF in Northern Ireland.
It has pledged £845,000 in first stage development funding and, if that work is completed as envisaged, the remainder of the money will then be released.
The museum would complement a variety of maritime attractions in Belfast's old shipyards, including the £97 million Titanic Belfast visitor attraction.
A light cruiser, weighing 3,750 tons and measuring 446 feet, HMS Caroline was part of the screening force that sailed out ahead of the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet during the Battle of Jutland to establish the position of the German battleships.
Captain John Rees, chief of staff at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), said the significance of the ship could not be overstated.
"She is a one of a kind, an iconic ship," he said.
"The only floating survivor of all the fleets - both German and British - that fought in the First World War and the Battle of Jutland."