Royal Navy's HMS Bronington: Efforts to save historic 'wooden walls' warship step up with fundraising campaign as former captain Prince Charles 'humbled'

EFFORTS to save a sinking Royal Navy warship once captained by Prince Charles have stepped up with a fundraising campaign now launched to raise £20,000 – with the future King ‘humbled’ by the campaign.

By Steve Deeks
Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 11:32 am

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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HMS Bronington submerged at Mersey Docks

Several efforts have been made to save the vessel, which has played an important part in the Royal Navy’s history.

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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.

Lord Mountbatten watches as Prince Charles brings his minehunter HMS Bronington alongside at HMS Vernon, Portsmouth.

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 fresh hope as recently formed community group HMS Bronington Preservation Trust continues its efforts to raise her from the murky depths of the docks with a go Fund Me campaign.

Mike McBride of the trust said: ‘We were recently formed to explore the possibility of re-floating and restoring her. This will take time to carry out and ultimately funding will be required.

‘Firstly, a dive survey by a professional company is required to assess the state of the hull and whether there is any significant damage. For this, we are hoping to raise £20,000 which will cover the costs of the survey, subsequent re-floating and pumping out.

‘Following this, the trust will be actively seeking sponsorship and grants to fund the remaining phases of the restoration such as removal to a repair facility and full restoration to her former glory. The trust is currently discussing this restoration project with shipyards around the UK.

‘The trustees are asking for your help with this phase by asking you to donate to the initial costs required to get this project off the ground. Any donation, large or small, will be gratefully received. Should the project be abandoned, all donations will be further donated to forces charities.’

Speaking of Prince Charles’ interest he added: ‘Correspondence to the Prince of Wales had an encouraging response.

‘A letter received from Clarence House states that His Royal Highness takes a keen interest in all matters to do with his former ship and is humbled by the recovery efforts for this historical naval vessel.’

Mr McBride said the project has the backing of Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt and is supported by Flick Drummond, the Conservative MP for the Meon Valley.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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