Gosport museum hopes missiles will bring crowds

UP CLOSE Nick Hewitt, head of collections, next to two Sea Dart missiles at Explosion! in Gosport. Picture: Sarah Standing (133525-1653)

UP CLOSE Nick Hewitt, head of collections, next to two Sea Dart missiles at Explosion! in Gosport. Picture: Sarah Standing (133525-1653)

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WITH these two gleaming Sea Dart missiles posted at its entrance, the Explosion! Museum appears well protected from attack.

But far from warning people off, the museum hopes the impressive weapons will help draw in visitors.

The giant launcher has sat in front of the museum since last year, but now it has finally been armed with a pair of striking red drill missiles.

Nick Hewitt, the head of collections at the museum, said: ‘Explosion! has been planning to reunite the missiles with the launcher for six months now, but a task which would take seconds on board a ship is considerably more complicated without a loading mechanism or a power supply.

‘It also takes rather more time and people to make it happen.

‘We are sure no-one else has attempted the complicated evolution we carried out to put it in place.

‘This is the only example in a UK museum collection, and before long will almost certainly be the only survivor worldwide.’

Last year, sailors from HMS Collingwood in Fareham volunteered to help clean the launcher ready for it to take pride of place in front of the museum.

The Sea Dart launcher was gifted to the Explosion! Museum in 2012 by BAE Systems and restored.

The two drill missiles which were donated with it were restored at the museum over a period of seven months by museum volunteers and Fleet Air Arm veteran Joe Keane.

Nick added: ‘We’re extremely grateful to Rapid Response Solutions who recovered the system from Aberporth for us and then agreed to lift the missiles into place free of charge.

‘Terry Partington and his expert colleagues from Babcock International’s weapon engineering training group at HMS Collingwood, who provided advice throughout and safely fitted the weapons into place for us.’

The Sea Dart launcher outside the museum is the first of its kind to be built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, now BAE Systems.

After testing at Barrow, it was sent to the Ministry of Defence’s Aberporth site for further stress testing.

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