A MULTI-MILLION pound project to restore HMS Alliance has been given the go-ahead.
Work to repair the vessel, which is the UK's only remaining Second World War submarine, is set to begin in May, at a cost of 7m. It will be Alliance's biggest restoration since the 1960s.
Under the plans, which were passed by a regulatory meeting at Gosport Borough Council, the project will involve new mechanical and electrical plants being installed to help conserve Alliance, and the construction of a dry dock.
And as part of the improvements, Bob Mealings, acting director at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport, where the submarine in based, says he wants to do more to reach out to the community.
He said: 'We are delighted our plans for the Alliance Conservation Project have gone through so smoothly. This is encouragement that the borough values its heritage assets and can see the benefits that the restoration of HMS Alliance can bring.
'We want to do more outreach work with the community, get more volunteers and get a broader range of learning activities and organisations to come in.
'Alliance is the most important asset. It's the jewel in the crown of the museum. Without it there is not a museum and it is important to us.'
So far 4.9m has been raised, with 3.5m through a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The museum wants to raise the remaining money by early next year so restoration can begin.
The submarine has been in desperate need of repair after concerns that parts of the structure may fall into the sea. The project will stop further deterioration of the submarine and provide improved visitor access and viewing at Gosport's submarine museum.
There will also be new stairs installed at the bow, a new viewing platform and new pontoons.
'We have been fundraising for about a year and I am confident we can raise the rest of the money,' added Mr Mealings.
'This is the biggest restoration project since it came here in 1981 and its last major re-fit was in the 60s. While work is being carried out the site will be open the whole time.'