THE Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT) is to be granted £2.4m in LIBOR funding by the Chancellor for its Memorial Fleet project. The project will create an operational Memorial Fleet of small craft which have played a significant role in the defence of the nation during the 20th century.
LIBOR funding comes from fines levied on the banking industry for manipulating the LIBOR rate, and is being used to support those that represent the best of values, in particular military and emergency services charities and other related good causes.
The project will offer the public the opportunity to engage with the historic craft both in Portsmouth and farther afield, and will provide rehabilitative and vocational training for veterans.
The trust will work closely with the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) Portsmouth, Highbury College and the trust’s Boathouse 4 volunteers, as well as with the Company of Makers, a Hampshire-based charity dedicated to assisting veterans and their families.
Veterans will participate in the construction and restoration of the boats, learning valuable new vocational skills; the diversity of the restoration projects will ensure broad scope for veteran training.
The Memorial Fleet project comprises five elements:
The First World War Armed Steam Cutter Falmouth will be restored. Falmouth served aboard the cruiser HMS Falmouth in 1916 and was present at the Battle of Jutland. She is one of only two known Jutland survivors to still exist. Falmouth will represent ships’ boats, without which no major fleet unit could operate.
Foxtrot 8 (above), a landing craft formerly aboard HMS Fearless which took part in the Falklands conflict, will also be restored. An integral part of this restoration project is the inclusion of Falklands and other modern conflict veterans.
The Second World War Motor Gun Boat 81 (below) will receive new engines. MGB 81 is a rare example of a mobile museum ship, and is able to visit communities and events that are taking place away from the traditional historic vessel locations such as Portsmouth or London. MGB 81 will become a roving ambassador for the history of the Royal Navy, reaching a wider audience of veterans, their families and the general public at large. The trust will construct a replica of Coastal Motor Boat 4 which, under the command of Lt Augustus Agar, sank the Bolshevik cruiser Oleg in 1919.
Vessels such as this have not been built in significant numbers since the First World War, and the techniques and skills required offer a unique opportunity to explore ‘living’ archaeology.
LIBOR funding will also enable the creation of a new pontoon, which will act as a base for the fleet. The new pontoons will allow the public to get much closer to the boats, and will improve access for people, many of whom are aged volunteers and veterans.