D-Day landing craft LCT 7074 reaches dry land in Portsmouth
AN HISTORIC new landmark has taken its place in the city.
Landing craft, tank LCT 7074 – used in the D-Day landings at Normandy – has made landfall in Southsea after a multi-million pound restoration project.
The vessel, which was decommissioned after the Second World War, will take pride of place at the D-Day Story Museum, where a canopy is already in place to house her.
It has been a long journey for the National Museum of the Royal Navy, which acquired the landing craft in 2014 after it sank in Merseyside.
In the early hours of Monday morning, LCT 7074 was brought up to Clarence Esplanade on a barge, before a bridge was built to transport her onto the main road.
Nick Hewitt, head of collections and research at the NMRN, said the craft's arrival was a momentous occasion for the city.
He said: ‘This is such an emotional day for everyone involved.
‘When I first saw LCT 7074 she was just a funnel poking out of the water, so to see her now is just incredible.’
LCT 7074 arrived in Southsea at 3am, the last surviving of its kind from the 800 used on D-Day.
With the landing craft on wheels, the vessel was driven off the barge in front of crowds of cheering onlookers – despite a long delay due to an issue with wheel calibration.
This was the ‘last chance’ for the project team to get her ashore, with the tide cycles working against them.
On Saturday night, an attempt to bring the landing craft onto the seafront was abandoned due to strong winds.
Mr Hewitt said he was ‘relieved’ when Sunday’s attempt was a success.
He said: ‘She came in so smoothly and quickly – it came as a bit of a surprise given how things had gone the night before.
‘Everything happened right on time and everyone was very calm throughout.
‘She looks incredible, and I think that taking a look around the craft will give people a brand new perspective on the events of Operation Overlord.’
As of October, people will be able to go on board the vessel and take a look around.
Also on board the 58m LCT will be a Churchill tank and a Sherman tank.
Deputy council leader, Councillor Steve Pitt, said that exploring the vessel will give people a more personal and intimate representation of the D-Day landings.
He said: ‘The move was a great success and we are so pleased that LCT is now in her final position outside the D-Day Story in Southsea.
‘The ship is a great addition to our current offering and is a fitting tribute to all those who served at D-Day.
‘Visitors to LCT will be able to experience D-Day like never before, they will get to step on board this historic landing craft and get a taste of what the troops in the Second World War experienced including having two refurbished tanks on display on the ship’s deck.’