HMS Bronington set for 'plum site' in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as hopes grows of saving submerged Royal Navy warship

An historic warship once captained by King Charles has been offered a ‘plum site’ in Portsmouth if efforts to save her are successful.
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In a major development amid efforts to save the ‘last of the wooden walls’ minehunter captained by the then Prince Charles in 1976, it was revealed discussions had ‘identified prestigious berths within Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard that would be suitable for HMS Bronington’.

HMS Bronington in her prime: Pic Royal NavyHMS Bronington in her prime: Pic Royal Navy
HMS Bronington in her prime: Pic Royal Navy
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In an email, the director general of the NMRN Dominic Tweddle told the trust: ‘If you are able to find the resource to restore HMS Bronington, then NMRN will look favourably on a request to find space for her on one of its sites, preferably in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. There are potential berths available. I wish you all the best in your endeavours.’

The article added: ‘The outline plan for Bronington’s restoration follows a similar course to Normandy veteran LCT7074, which now enjoys pride of place on Southsea seafront at the revamped D-Day Story museum.

‘Bronington is one of nearly 120 built in the 1950s which served with distinction into the 1980s and early 1990s, when today’s generation of Hunt-class and Sandown-class minehunters took over. On display in Portsmouth she would serve as a memorial and reminder to the public of the dangers of keeping the sea lanes mine-free.’

Dive survey of HMS Bronington. Pic Phil OwenDive survey of HMS Bronington. Pic Phil Owen
Dive survey of HMS Bronington. Pic Phil Owen
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Mike McBride, of the trust, said: ‘Everything is in place to rescue HMS Bronington and return her to her final squadron base port of Portsmouth – if we can get funding. She would look good next to HMS Warrior, and would complement the HMS Vernon-Mine Warfare Memorial up the road at Gunwharf Quays.’

It means the vessel, decommissioned in 1988 at Portsmouth, will return to her final squadron base port in the city rather than elsewhere in the country as had been mooted, if restoration funds can be found.

The trust was granted charitable status last year, which opened the door to potential lottery funding. To access that funding, however, a viable plan has to be drawn up – and the trust must raise a substantial part of the funding. So far £13, 000 has been raised.

A five-stage plan has been drawn up to save, preserve and finally restore vintage minehunter with the first three steps alone – getting Bronington out of the water, moving her to a shipyard and creating a special steel cradle to support the ship – estimated around to cost upwards of £1m.

The then Prince Charles, Captain of HMS Bronington, watched by brother Prince AndrewThe then Prince Charles, Captain of HMS Bronington, watched by brother Prince Andrew
The then Prince Charles, Captain of HMS Bronington, watched by brother Prince Andrew
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The final phases of the restoration focus on general preservation of the vessel and removing any toxic materials from the vessel, followed by the actual task of restoring Bronington to a state worthy of display to the public.