Second World War boats to be restored to their former glory

World War 2 war boat MGB81, the 'Spitfire of the Seas', enters an exciting new phase of restoration'' ''Rescued from obscurity as a derelict houseboat, MGB81 is one of a dwindling number of historic 'power boats which remain afloat and operational. Owner Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, generously funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and supported by Gunwharf Quays Marina, has now begun the restoration of her wartime appearance by fitting replica weapons and other essential equipment. Once this work is complete, MGB 81 will be restored to her World War 2 appearance when she supported the Normandy 'D-Day' landings in June 1944.

World War 2 war boat MGB81, the 'Spitfire of the Seas', enters an exciting new phase of restoration'' ''Rescued from obscurity as a derelict houseboat, MGB81 is one of a dwindling number of historic 'power boats which remain afloat and operational. Owner Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, generously funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and supported by Gunwharf Quays Marina, has now begun the restoration of her wartime appearance by fitting replica weapons and other essential equipment. Once this work is complete, MGB 81 will be restored to her World War 2 appearance when she supported the Normandy 'D-Day' landings in June 1944.

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SHE plucked fallen pilots from the North Sea and English Channel during the historic Battle of Britain.

Now RAF Rescue Launch boat HSL102 will be given a new lease of life.

The Second World War vessel, which is owned by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, based at College Road, Portsea, is being kitted out with three new engines.

The trust wanted to replace the existing ones, which are 10 years old, after inspectors detected faults this summer.

The upgraded vessel will then be open for public viewings and hire at Gunwharf Quays Marina.

Peter Goodship, chief executive of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said: ‘In these challenging times, it is never easy to commit large sums of money, especially when they are un-budgeted.

‘But HSL102 is a truly unique boat which we hold in trust for the nation.

‘The trustees wished to see her remain afloat and operational for the benefit, enjoyment and use of future generations.’

Mermaid Marines, based at East Quay Road, in Poole, have now begun replacing the engines and the boat’s drive train.

The improvements will help to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and give the boat more life at sea.

The cost of the overall project, which is being paid for by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, has not been disclosed.

The work is set to be completed by April.

Nick Hewitt, head of attractions and collections at Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, said: ‘The refit is a big job.

‘The guys at Mermaid Marines have to take the underpart of the boat to bits.

‘Once the work is done and after extensive sea trials it should be back in operation by April. I strongly feel it is our awesome responsibility to restore this Second World War boat.

‘As a RAF High Speed Launch it’s the last of its kind still at sea today. We want to keep her in operation for as long as possible.’

Second World War boat MGB81, which until recently was derelict, will also be returned to her former glory when the trust kits her out with replica weapons and equipment.

The work is being funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

In 2014, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, MGB81 will tour the former D-Day embarkation ports along the UK’s south coast. She will then travel with a crew of veterans to Normandy to take part in the anniversary commemorations.

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