A LANDING craft that helped Royal Marines liberate the Falklands almost 35 years ago is to enjoy a fresh lease of life – ferrying disabled tourists around Portsmouth Harbour.
Foxtrot Eight was one of four smaller craft used by Portsmouth-based assault ship HMS Fearless to transport commandos and their equipment ashore at San Carlos in May 1982.
We estimate we need in the region of £200,000 to restore her and get her back onto the waterCaroline Barrie-Smith, community participation and learning officer at Boathouse 4
Although Fearless was broken up a decade ago, two of her landing craft were saved as museum pieces.
One – Foxtrot Seven, used in the evacuation of crew of stricken frigate HMS Antelope – sits outside the Royal Marines Museum in Eastney.
Foxtrot Eight was donated to the Historic Dockyard where she could be seen floating in the Mast Pond – between Action Stations and Boathouse 4.
With the latter building brought back to life last year as a centre for small boat building thanks to £6m investment, the facilities now exist to bring F8 back to life – although it will be a big task.
‘The years of retirement sitting in the Mast Pond have not been kind to F8,’ said volunteer Lieutenant Paul ‘Shady’ Lane from survey ship HMS Scott.
‘The hull is riddled with marine growth and many of the fittings – including the engines – are in desperate need of attention.’
Volunteers from the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust will team up with students and the International Boatbuilding Training College Portsmouth who share the building to restore the craft.
If the restoration scheme succeeds, the landing craft will be able to give disabled visitors a tour of the harbour – thanks to the bow ramp allowing easier access.
Caroline Barrie-Smith, community participation and learning officer at Boathouse 4, is keen to hear tales from Falkland veterans – particularly from 40 Commando and the Parachute Regiment (3 para) or the 41 rescued from HMS Antelope.
She added: ‘We estimate we need in the region of £200,000 to restore her and get her back onto the water.
‘F8 is just one of a number of historic boats being worked on in Boathouse 4 and these small craft never fail to inspire our visitors.’
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