THEY have lurked untouched inside HMS Alliance for more than 30 years.
But now the historic Second World War submarine’s two periscopes have been removed as part of an ongoing refurbishment project.
Cranes took over the skyline of the Gosport-based Royal Navy Submarine Museum as the delicate operation to remove the two periscopes began.
Workers have spent weeks planning the extraction – usually a routine job for submarine workers – in minute detail.
But with neither scope having been moved an inch since 1973 the project required meticulous planning.
Museum curator Bob Mealings said: ‘It is a very delicate and historic operation.
‘One of the periscopes has been completely hidden from us all this time and we haven’t been able to get at it before.
‘We have done a lot of preparation to make sure they come out okay.’
HMS Alliance is covered in scaffolding while the work to restore the submarine goes on.
Once safely out of the submarine, the periscopes were loaded in boxes onto a waiting truck.
The truck is heading for Faslane in Scotland, where engineering firm Babcock International will restore the periscopes to full working order.
HMS Alliance is equipped with two periscopes, one for general use and a smaller one for attack.
The attack scope is made of bronze and dates from the submarine’s construction in 1945.
Museum director Chris Munns said: ‘This is part of the latest phase of the restoration and so far it’s going extremely well.
‘We haven’t had any nasty surprises and I hope we don’t. It is very encouraging to see everything going so well.’
Part of the restoration project will also see the submarine opened up to wheelchair users for the first time.
The current phase of restoration work on HMS Alliance is being carried out by Portsmouth-based engineering and steelwork firm ML UK.
HMS Alliance was designed during the Second World War for services in the Far East.
She was launched in 1945 and began a distinguished 28-year career during the Cold War until she was retired in 1973.
Although the restoration project has begun, the submarine museum’s £6.75m conservation project is still slightly short of the mark.
To find out more about the project or to make a donation to the appeal visit submarine-museum.co.uk or call (023) 9251 0354.