Royal Navy's HMS Bronington: 'Last of wooden walls' warship once captained by Prince Charles can be saved, dive survey concludes

A FORMER Royal Navy warship once captained by Prince Charles that has been left rotting and submerged in a dockyard can be saved, a dive survey has concluded.

By Steve Deeks
Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 11:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 9:14 am

HMS Bronington, a Cold War-era minesweeper and one of the last naval ships to feature a wooden hull, was due to undergo a dive survey in order to identify the state of the hull before a decision was made on salvaging her.

The assessment was seen as pivotal in whether efforts to save the sunken vessel were realistic following a campaign by the Bronington Trust.

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Dive survey of HMS Bronington. Pic Phil Owen

Despite her past glories and service to the country in helping maintain peace during the turbulent Cold War, Bronington had looked set for the scrapyard after being submerged at Birkenhead Docks, Merseyside.

But a dive survey by Briggs Marine last Friday has now revealed ‘confidence ‘ Bronington can be salvaged.

Mike McBride, of the trust, said: ‘The dive survey was an exceptionally successful occasion for the trust and more importantly HMS Bronington.

‘The dive survey was relayed to a shore-side screen by the divers on board camera and even though the visibility was far from good we were afforded some really good shots of the ship's hull as the diver progressed around the ship.

HMS Bronington submerged at Mersey Docks

‘It has now been confirmed that with some preliminary work on the watertight integrity of the hull and internal debris/silt removal that she is salvageable.

‘Of course there is an area of the hull the diver couldn’t visit due to her sitting on the seabed and silt build up, but with confidence and more money, we will now be going for the salvage operation.

‘The dive team were happy with the results of the survey, only finding two minor holes in the port bow, which they can easily make watertight for salvage and towing.’

No problems were found with the aluminium frame of the vessel. Externally, the ship is ‘very encrusted’ with barnacles and sea life but these were not thought to cause any problems. Large amounts of silt and debris within the ships compartments can also be removed.

Dive survey of HMS Bronington. Pic Phil Owen

Mike said: ‘The dive supervisor was confident that salvage is possible and his formal report will take about two weeks to complete.

‘In addition, Ambipar Response who work in conjunction with the Maritime Coastguard Agency were on site and are also confident the salvage is possible.’

The next stage of the salvage operation will see the removal of debris and silt internally throughout the hull and the hull patched up to achieve watertight integrity, pump out and refloat.

Mike added: ‘The satisfactory outcome of the dive survey will now focus the efforts of the trust to achieve charitable status and future applications for grants and sponsorships.

Dive survey of HMS Bronington. Pic Phil Owen

‘Our fundraising efforts have now raised £8,725 and with a sizable donation from the Liverpool Royal Naval Association our total has been taken to over £9,000. But we need much more to achieve restoration.’

Prince Charles has said he is ‘delighted’ with efforts to save Bronington.