SHE is the sole surviving landing craft left from D-Day and is now set to become a new landmark along the seafront.
Following a £4.7m cash injection, LCT 7074 – a landing craft tank, will be restored to her original glory, becoming the ‘missing piece in the jigsaw’ for the newly-revamped D-Day Museum in Southsea.
The 300-tonne vessel shipped 10 tanks to Gold beach on June 7, 1944 and went on to serve her nation for the remainder of the Second World War.
After a chequered life – in which she previously served as a ‘notorious nightclub’ in Liverpool during the 70s, the craft sank in the River Mersey in 2010.
But her future saw new light in October 2014, when a team from the National Museum of the Royal Navy were able to acquire the funds needed to raise and bring her to Portsmouth.
Now, thanks to a multimillion boost from the National Lottery, the extraordinary vessel is set to be restored to her former glory.
The craft will be the missing piece of the puzzle and will become a landmark down on the seafront for visitors to marvel at for years to come.Nick Hewitt, project director
Nick Hewitt, project director and head of exhibitions at the national museum of the Royal Navy said: ‘We are incredibly excited about this project. The collection at the D-Day Museum is already fabulous but it has been missing that really big featured object.
‘The craft will be the missing piece of the puzzle and will become a landmark down on the seafront for visitors to marvel at for years to come.’
The project will involve the complete restoration of the 59m-long vehicle to return her 1944 configuration.
As she is too large to move by car and sea to the museum, she will be taken apart into smaller pieces, driven to the seafront and then reassembled.
She is also too big to be housed within the museum and will be shown on raised blocks on the common to make her look even larger.
The museum’s two tanks will go through a similar process and be displayed on the tank deck of the LCT.
The aim of the project is to have her unveiled for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 2019 with the revamped museum to be opened next spring.
Mr Hewitt said: ‘We can’t wait to get started really and the clock is ticking.
‘It is has been a long time to get to this point and we are excited to work with the council on making this dream a reality.
‘It will put her in the city’s heart, engaging a potential 4.5m annual users of the common with the story of her ship and her people.
‘It puts her story – which uniquely links land and sea – in context for museum visitors and ensures she survives for future generations.’
Up to 40 volunteers and two apprentices will help the expert conservators during the task.
Over 800 LCT with the capacity to carry 10 tanks or equivalent armoured vehicles were involved in Operation Neptune – the naval element of Overlord.
The LCT is one of three left remaining in the world and is one of only 10 survivors from the 7,000-strong ship contingent involved in D-Day.
Sir Peter Luff, chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund said: ‘The importance of the Normandy landings is very well understood, but as the years pass it becomes harder for people to appreciate just how much technological innovation they demanded.
‘Without the development of the landing craft tank earlier in the war, it is difficult to see how D-Day – a hugely ambitious amphibiously operation could have succeeded.’
Councillor Linda Symes, cabinet member for culture at the city council said: ‘Having this landing craft on display will help to bring the personal stories of D-Day to life in this new exhibition. We are grateful to the National Lottery for making this happen. The new museum is going to be fantastic!’