HMS Prince of Wales's arrival to Portsmouth scuppers plans to open landing craft tank attraction this year
PLANS by heritage bosses to unveil a new military attraction in Portsmouth this year have been scuppered by the arrival of the Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier.
Dockyard heritage bosses have been working for months to prepare Landing Craft Tank 7074 for its arrival in Southsea.
The enormous 59-metre vessel – which transported 10 tanks into Normandy on D-Day – is currently based at Portsmouth Naval Base.
It was due to move onto Southsea Common before the end of the year, becoming one of the city’s star military attractions alongside the D-Day Story museum.
However, plans to bring the £3.1bn HMS Prince of Wales into Portsmouth in the autumn have forced conservation chiefs to postpone the move.
Nick Hewitt, head of exhibitions and collections at The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) has been leading the renovation of LCT 7074.
He said: ‘We know Prince of Wales is arriving at the end of the year at some point but the navy won’t say when exactly.
‘We are in a situation where we only have a four-day period where the tides are high enough to get her out to Southsea safely.
‘We can’t risk mobilising expensive kit and then the navy coming back and say we won’t be able to move her because the aircraft carrier is arriving.’
Instead, the team at the NMRN has decided to move LCT 7074 to Southsea early next year.
This will give conservation teams extra time to work on her in the safe confines of the naval base.
It’s hoped by the time LCT 7074 arrives in Southsea, she will almost be the finished article.
Currently, she is midway through a six-week phase of deep cleaning of her hull using high-pressure water jets.
Other work includes giving her a new paint job, repairing defects in the tank’s steel hull and adding internal fixtures.
Mr Hewitt said: ‘We’re really motoring now. It’s a tremendously exciting time.
‘Once she is finished she will be a game-changer for Portsmouth – she’ll be a “selfie” moment.
‘It’ll be an immediate endorphin hit to show the scale of D-Day.’
LCT 7074 will be floated by barge from the dockyard to Southsea coast, where she will be maneuvered up a ‘shingle ramp’ onto Clarence Esplande where she will be slowly driven to her spot close to the D-Day Story.
She will open to the public in spring 2020.