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Belfast may lose First World War ship


Lantern Swinger
Belfast may lose First World War ship
By Linda Stewart
Saturday, 15 August 2009

The last floating survivor of a pivotal First World War sea battle will probably be decommissioned by the end of the year, the Royal Navy has confirmed.

HMS Caroline, which has been moored in Belfast since 1924, needs around £3.5 million worth of refurbishment but the Royal Navy says it cannot foot the bill and the historic vessel is expected to change hands within months.

Heritage enthusiasts fear that while Belfast celebrates the Tall Ships and renovates SS Nomadic, the city could lose one of its finest historic ships once Caroline is decommissioned, as she could be moved to a maritime museum across the water.

The C-class light cruiser was launched and commissioned in 1914, making her the second-oldest ship in Royal Navy service after HMS Victory. She is the last remaining British World War I light cruiser in service and the only floating survivor to have fought at the Battle of Jutland, the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war.

Belfast councillor Lord Wallace Browne said Caroline is no longer suitable for the Royal Navy Reserves because of the amount of asbestos that would have to be removed at high cost.

And he said growing numbers of councillors and MLAs are concerned that, once decommissioned, HMS Caroline could be removed to a maritime museum in England.

“They feel it would be right to keep HMS Caroline in Belfast. There’s a danger she could be removed from Belfast to go back to Portsmouth - it’s all a matter of finance,†he said.

“We hope enough people would be interested to mount a campaign that HMS Caroline should stay. If the money was found to remove the asbestos and make her safe, I think she could form part of the Titanic Signature Project.â€
PERCY09 said:
What will the reserves do then if it is decommisioned?

Probably the same as in Dundee when the Unicorn was given to a preservation society ----moved ashore . Mind it was a purpose built shore
building they went to.

tomm90 said:
Belfast may lose First World War shipBelfast councillor Lord Wallace Browne said Caroline is no longer suitable for the Royal Navy Reserves because of the amount of asbestos that would have to be removed at high cost.


1. Do a Cutty Sark & make an insurance claim.

2. Give the C a new life as Radio Caroline II.

3. Raise funds by chasing 'the Old RNR Boys' for refit cosr'


War Hero
BreathingOutOnTheWayUp said:
tomm90 said:
Belfast may lose First World War shipBelfast councillor Lord Wallace Browne said Caroline is no longer suitable for the Royal Navy Reserves because of the amount of asbestos that would have to be removed at high cost.


1. Do a Cutty Sark & make an insurance claim.

2. Give the C a new life as Radio Caroline II.
3. Raise funds by chasing 'the Old RNR Boys' for refit cosr'

Yes great idea.....bring back pirate radio..... :pirate: :thumbright:


War Hero
I believe she is a grade one listed vessel (or something similar). We can't scrap her, but we need to make sure she is somewhere where she remains a financially viable option. Given the problems of Belfasts history, she doesnt have the highest profile, so the question is whether there is sufficient pull of tourists to Belfast to make her last, or whether she would be better placed in the mainland alongside the Portsmouth ships?


Lantern Swinger
It is my belief HMS Caroline will probably be moved to London or Portsmouth. Proper funding or a large lottery grant can then be applied for to refurbish her properly back to what she looked like during WW1. This could only be acheived in England and not Belfast, were a large section of local citizens are Irish republican who would tow her out into the Irish Sea and sink her if they had their way.

HMS Caroline is the only WW1 RN ship left which served at the Battle of Jutland 1916.

In Belfast the local people are not interested in the Caroline. Their only interest is in restoring the SS Nomadic tender to the Titanic. This ship is now in the old Titanic dry dock and people pay a £5 to see round her. The local Titanic enthusiasts are collecting funds to refurbish her, and have no interest in HMS Caroline,
I was in Belfast a few months ago; Caroline looked very tired and did not really represent a WWI ship mainly due to those hideous box structures on her upper deck. I believe as she does not look the part the interest of the Belfast people will simply not be there. The locals appeared to me to be obsessed with Titanic even though the shipyard where she was built is now largely flattened with only the two iconic cranes left.


Lantern Swinger


There is a massive amount of work being done in Belfasts Titanic Quarter, including Titanic museums etc. HMS Caroline would fit in well & I believe it would receive lotery funding no problem due to these facts
Something like yes, and look at her now- rusting away on the side of the Thames like a gash barge. And Chrysanthemum, a WW1 sloop moored just downriver was decommissioned then scrapped in the 1990s (well scrapped in the 90s).

Much as the people of Belfast might quite like her to stay, you've only got to look at the Birkenhead experience or the closure of the Exeter maritime museum to see that the best chance Caroline's got is a berth in Pompey, Guzz or Chats.


War Hero
You would think that such an historic ship as HMS Caroline is ,she should NOT be decommissioned, but moved to a Portsmouth maritime museum and with all the refurbishment that is going on there (look at the What the fcuk has happened to Portsmouth? thread) then maybe viz 2SL in Victory put some other high office on Caroline or decomm and open to public as a museum with members from the Royal Naval Association helping to look after her.


War Hero
She'll be preserved Jimmy, but the RN has no funds to do this, and to get the funds, we'd need to decomission her from Naval Service.

I like the idea of her in Pompey or Chatham, as part of a wider collection of historic ships through the ages. Historic ships are very difficult to make money from, as has been seen with a lot of previous examples, so better to be in one location, where there are sufficient hulls to make people justify a visit. Sticking her on her own would be more damaging than moving her.


War Hero
I'm sure the Caroline was a night club in the sixties, it was just down the road (at the end of the cul-de-sac) as you went past the Stella Maris club.
Anyone else do a tour there late 60's early 70's when you could still have a run ashore without getting shot. 8O


Lantern Swinger
Agreed, To keep this ship in Belfast would be divisive among the local citizens. Even those from the Unionist British tradition are more interested in remembering Army history like 'The Somme' and the '36 Ulster Division' from WW1 than they are interested in Royal Naval traditions. Portsmouth is the best naval historical location for this WW1 light cruiser along. Along with the 19th century Warrior and Victory the Caroline would be an excellent naval museum piece from the early 20th century.
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