ONE of the most important ships in the country’s naval history will be open to visitors for the first time thanks to a £1.75m cash grant.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the cash to the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth to restore M33, a monitor ship which saw service in Gallipoli.
Launched in May 1915, she is the sole remaining British veteran of that year’s Gallipoli Campaign.
The lottery cash means she will be the only British warship from the First World War that will be open to the public during the centenary next year.
Project director Matthew Sheldon said: ‘HMS M33 is a small ship but has a big history.
‘It will be wonderful to open the ship to visitors next year on her centenary.
‘Finally we’ll be able to share the story of her part in the Gallipoli Campaign and reveal what it was like for the 72 crew who were crammed on board.’
The ship currently sits in No.1 Dock alongside HMS Victory in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
When open, visitors will start their journey through HMS M33 with a 6m descent into the bottom of the dock before stepping aboard.
The NMRN says this new entrance will provide a unique view of the hull of the ship and of No.1 Dock, which is itself a scheduled ancient moment.
An immersive battle experience installed on board will bring the ship’s history to life, including the stories of the men who served on board and the history of the Gallipoli Campaign.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general at the NMRN, said: ‘Next year HMS M33 will be the only British warship of the First World War that the public can get on board.
‘We are delighted the Heritage Lottery Fund has made this grant to the NMRN to conserve and restore the ship – she will be a permanent commemoration and a reminder that the First World War took place at sea just as much as on land.’
The grant comes after the NMRN was awarded almost £1m to retrieve and restore a landing craft from D-Day.
As reported in The News on Saturday, LCT 7074 has been sitting at the bottom of a dock in Birkenhead for years.
But the NMRN refloated it and plans to bring it to Portsmouth.
The Gallipoli Campaign, fought between April 1915 and January 2016 in what is now modern day Turkey, claimed over 100,000 lives of personnel from all round the world. With her shallow draft M33 was able to get close to shore and fire at targets on land.