Former Portsmouth Royal Navy ship in the running for National Lottery Award

HMS Caroline at her home in Belfast
HMS Caroline at her home in Belfast

HMS Caroline is back in battle – and this time for a National Lottery Award.

The Royal Navy vessel is the only survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland, during the First World War, and has been announced as a finalist in the heritage category of the National Lottery Awards 2018.

The ship resided in Portsmouth for many of its commissioned years and opened in 2016 at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Belfast, Ireland.

The Alexandra Dock was refurbished earlier this year and in 2014, HMS Caroline was the recipient of the largest ever Northern Ireland Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £11.5m in 2014.

Captain John Rees OBE, chief of staff at the museum, said he is delighted the project has been recognised as worthy of the National Lottery Awards finals.

He said: ‘Over the past six years, contractors, staff, management and officers have worked tirelessly to restore HMS Caroline to its First World War glory, and tell the historic story of the Battle of Jutland.

‘We have always proceeded with this project on the basis that it is a fundamental part of Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s joint histories. But we also acknowledge it as one of the world’s most significant historic maritime assets.

‘We are immeasurably grateful to those who have taken the story of Caroline into their hearts, from the visitors who have been intrigued enough to visit her, to the National Lottery and Heritage Lottery Fund for realising her value and enabling a completely new and fascinating heritage tourism asset for Belfast and the whole of the UK.’

Since the ship opened as a discovery site, Caroline has welcomed intrepid explorers, curious to know what life was like during the Battle of Jutland.

Portsmouth was home to Caroline for many occasions during her career – her first complement of men were drawn from the Portsmouth Port Division, originating from all over the UK and Ireland.

After the First World War, Caroline was decommissioned and reduced to Car and Maintenance on February 6, 1919, residing back in Portsmouth.

Her retirement did not last long, and on June 27, 1919, she recommissioned under Captain William Law and two days later, left Portsmouth for the Royal Navy’s East Indies Station, covering the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.

She returned to Portsmouth in 1922 for two years before being towed out in 1924 and taken to Belfast, where she was converted into a drill ship for the newly-established Ulster Division of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.

The HMS Caroline experience takes the visitor from an immersive ‘Jutland Experience’ on board, and the sights and sounds of the devastation of battle, to historic spaces such as captain’s quarters, marine’s mess and the engine rooms.

To vote in the National Lottery Awards 2018 visit lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards.

All voting is independently verified by the Electoral Reform Services.