New bid is launched to save sinking Royal Navy warship from Portsmouth

FRESH hopes have been raised in a desperate campaign to save a sinking Royal Navy warship once captained by Prince Charles.

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 3:05 pm
HMS Bronington submerged at Mersey Docks

HMS Bronington, a Cold War-era minesweeper, is one of the last naval vessels to feature a wooden hull.

Commissioned in 1954, the former Portsmouth ship had a distinguished naval career, which included important missions for the UK and Nato.

Yet despite her past glories and service to the country in helping maintain peace during the turbulent Cold War, Bronington has suffered the ignominy of coming to rest destitute, decrepit and submerged in Birkenhead Docks, Merseyside.

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However, none have proved a success, with Bronington still partially sunk and rotting away.

Financial issues saw the ship come into the care of the Birkenhead-based Warship Preservation Trust in 2002.

However, the Warship Preservation Trust entered into voluntary liquidation in 2006 and ownership of HMS Bronington passed into the hands of Peel Ports, who moved the vessel to Gillbrook Basin.

Tragedy finally struck for the vessel in 2016, as it partially sunk in its dock after suffering years of neglect.

Now the crippled ship has been given a fresh ray of hope as a community group revealed its ambition to raise her from the murky depths of the docks.

The intrepid group of volunteers from Bronington are drawing up plans to raise the Portsmouth vessel from the dock floor.

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Peter Horscroft is one of those leading the mission to see HMS Bronington saved and restored to her former glory through the newly-formed HMS Bronington Preservation Trust, which met on Saturday.

He said: ‘Despite numerous attempts to preserve HMS Bronington in subsequent years, she languishes still in Gillrook Basin, where her condition continues to deteriorate.

‘The hull is resting on the bottom in silt, showing a list to starboard, caused by the ingress of years of rainwater through her wooden decks.

‘Above the waterline is in a shabby condition, with an area along the port and starboard stem in very poor condition.

‘Her superstructure is mostly of alloy and, although shabby with peeling paintwork, is in sound and restorable condition.

‘The bilges contain standing water which is oily and will have to be disposed of. Other standing water will require analysis before removal.

‘As is normal for vessels built in this era, there is an amount of asbestos which is mostly, but not exclusively, confined to the engine exhausts and following a survey by a specialist company can be considered for safe removal.’

Bronington was decommissioned in 1988, having spent 10 months under the command of the Prince of Wales. during which time she was visited by the Queen.

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