HMS Bronington: 10 pictures showing warship in her pomp through to sad decline submerged in Merseyside docks

HMS Bronington played a vital role for Britain and her Allies during the Cold War – but despite her importance to the nation remains partially submerged at Birkenhead Docks in Merseyside as efforts to save her continue.

As reported last month, Bronington and the future King Charles played a “crucial” role in deterring the Soviet Union from invading Britain and her Allies during the Cold War.

Admiral Lord West, former First Sea Lord during the Cold War, who was also the Commanding Officer of the ton class minesweeper HMS Yarnton in Hong Kong in 1973, revealed the Soviet Union was planning to attack Western Europe during the Cold War in a chilling revelation.

But the Soviets were put off by minehunter warships such as HMS Bronington, captained by the then Prince Charles in 1976, as they showed the armoury that Britain possessed.

In an interview with Forces Net, Admiral Lord West highlighted the vital role of HMS Bronington as efforts to save the “last of the wooden walls” ship continue apace - with “everything in place to rescue” the ship from its submerged spot in Birkenhead Docks and bring her home to Portsmouth.

Admiral Lord West said: “If there had been a war with the Soviet Union we knew the Soviets had thousands of mines and would have used them prolifically. To keep the routes open into our ports, bearing in mind 95 per cent of goods that come into the country come in via the sea, they could only be kept open if we could keep the sea bed clear of mines.

“So these little tiny ships were really important. What Prince Charles was doing in that tiny role was crucial stuff to show that we had the capability. These were things the Soviets thought about because they had plans to invade Western Europe…I saw them as chief of intelligence after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“They had plans to do it but they didn’t do it because they thought we were too capable and they thought they would not necessarily have won quickly.”

Mike McBride, of campaign group The Bronington Trust which is spearheading efforts to save Bronington, told The News in August: “With a post restoration home for HMS Bronington at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard looking likely, the charity are now in discussions with professional heritage fundraising consultants to prepare and submit heritage funding applications.

“If funding can be found everything is in place to rescue HMS Bronington. A local Birkenhead shipbuilder has completed a feasibility study and prepared a comprehensive order of costs to conduct a cradled slipway landing of HMS Bronington.

“The cost includes the manufacture of a bespoke transportable cradle and vessel storage for six months, whilst restoration funding is accumulated. Salvage costs from three well known salvage specialists have been confirmed.

“It is planned, when on the slipway, the vessel conditioned will be stabilised with all toxic/polluting materials removed. Restoration costs will then be assessed prior to planned restoration at a Merseyside shipyard or moved to the south coast.”

He added: “The project to save HMS Bronington is resonating with the public and crowdfunding has now accrued over £16,000 with some great comments. Not enough money to save the vessel, but proves to potential heritage funders and the National Museum Royal Navy (NMRN) that this maritime heritage project is popular with the public.”

See our gallery of Bronington during her pomp through to her sad recent state and now dive surveys.

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