EVEN those who have been working on HMS Alliance for years don’t know what they might find if they took her apart.
But with the start of the latest phase of the submarine’s restoration project, they are about to find out.
Contractors have now started taking the Second World War vessel to bits as part of a multi-million pound project to restore the submarine to its former glory.
Ravaged by rust and corrosion, parts of the sub have been in danger of falling into the sea.
But the project will give her a new lease of life which will last for another 60 years.
Bob Mealings, the acting director of the museum, said: ‘We’ve been treating it like an archaeological site, documenting things as they come off. We have every level of access now which we have never had before so we can examine things in detail.
‘Because we don’t have records, the full extent of its exhaust and induction system is being unravelled for us.
‘We’ve been finding components we can’t even identify. It’s very exciting.’
In the next few weeks the outside of the sub will be blasted at high pressure to reveal the steelwork and the extent of the erosion.
Portsmouth-based engineering and steelwork firm ML UK has been put in charge of the restoration of HMS Alliance.
Project director Martin Hobson said: ‘As a local company, we were absolutely ecstatic to have got the contract to do the work.
‘It’s an exciting project and we’re never going to get the chance to do anything like it again. We more or less knew what to expect as we did a lot of surveys beforehand so nothing’s taken us by surprise yet.’
The firm has been carrying out ultrasonic surveys on the submarine and is documenting the restoration process for future reference.
Work started in October last year when workers began constructing a concrete platform beneath the submarine.
Alliance is the only surviving Second World War-era sub and is a memorial to 5,300 British submariners who have lost their lives in service.
So far, the submarine museum, in Haslar Road, Gosport, has raised more than £6m towards the cost of the project.
They were helped with a £3.4m grant from the Heritage Lottery fund last year.
But the museum has not yet reached its £6.75m target.
To find out more or to make a donation to the appeal visit submarine-museum.co.uk or call (023) 9251 0354.