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All Our Yesterdays: HMS Caroline

By Paul Carson

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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