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Bid to make HMS Caroline ship-shape; WWI VESSEL TOURISM HOPE.

Byline: DERIC HENDERSON news@mirror.co.uk

A BID has been launched to secure a massive funding boost to turn a First World War warship into a spectacular new tourist attraction.

Just weeks after the announcement of a PS1million grant to save HMS Caroline falling into disrepair, an application is being lodged with the Heritage Lottery Fund to finance an ambitious restoration programme.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment want the money to secure the ship's long-term future as another world-class floating museum in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. A decision is expected in April.

Built in Merseyside in 1914, HMS Caroline is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland - the First World War's most strategically-important sea battle and the only time the full German and British navies engaged directly. Since 1945, it has been based in Belfast as a static drill ship until it was decommissioned two years ago.

NMRN director general Professor Dominic Tweddle said the initial PS1.097million grant was a vital first step in saving the vessel.

But a successful second application for funding is essential to secure its future and provide a unique shared space that will reflect people from both sides of the community who fought and died in both world wars.

Restoration work is due to be completed in time for the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in 2016.

Professor Tweddle said: "It will be fully restored and transformed into a museum telling the story of life on board the ship throughout multiple periods of history, in times of war, peace and political upheaval.

"It will offer a unique visitor experience, revealing what life was like for the 300-strong crew - using real-life stories of the people who served on her over the last 100 years."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said a successful funding application would develop Caroline into a highquality visitor attraction.

She added: "It is one of our most significant historic vessels and has huge potential."

There will be state-of-the-art audiovisual facilities to give visitors a better understanding and interpretation of what happened during the two wars, especially the Battle of Jutland.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 26, 2012
Words:373
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