HMS Caroline, the last surviving British warship of World War I, is to be preserved thanks to and award of £1m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).
This money has been awarded to the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) which use it to carry out urgent repair works to the Belfast-based light cruiser.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the NMRN, welcomed the announcement. ‘We cannot overestimate the significance of HMS Caroline. It is the only remaining floating survivor of World War I.
‘NMRN is thrilled that the funding is now in place to secure it and prevent any further deterioration.’
Northern Ireland’s minister for the economy, trade and investment, Arlene Foster added that the funding marks the beginning of a two-stage rescue plan.
She said: ‘The second stage will be driven by a funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore and preserve HMS Caroline.
‘Our ultimate aim is to transform the ship into a world-class floating museum in time for the Battle of Jutland centenary in 2016, as I believe HMS Caroline has huge potential as a visitor experience.’
Built on Merseyside in 1914, the ship is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland.
A light cruiser, weighing 3,750 tons and 446ft long, when built she was technologically ground-breaking.
It was her maximum speed of close to 30 knots that enabled the British Navy to respond to the increasing threat of long-range torpedo attack on battleships, locating the enemy fleet and then rapidly carrying news back to the British battleships.
When the war ended she became a static training ship based in Belfast. During World War II, HMS Caroline was back in action, acting as a base for operations to protect the North Atlantic convoys from U-boat attacks.
In 1945 she returned to her role as a static drill ship in Belfast until decommissioned in 2011, making her the longest ship in commission in the British Navy after HMS Victory.