Race is on to save First World War battleship and bring her to Portsmouth

A HISTORIC First World War battleship is in desperate need of help from the people of Portsmouth to save her from the scrapyard.

Wednesday, 14th September 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:52 pm
HMS President Picture: Andrew Lunn Photography

The charity responsible for maintaining the iconic U-boat hunter HMS President failed to clinch a £330,000 lottery grant to secure her future.

Now, in a final bid to rescue the warship, bosses at the HMS President Preservation Trust have revealed new plans to move her to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.

But to make these proposals a reality, the trust needs city residents to back a petition urging chancellor Philip Hammond to step in and provide government cash to help save her.

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If successful, HMS President would sit alongside other historic ships moored in the city, from HMS Victory, Mary Rose and HMS Warrior to M33 – another one of just three First World War craft left in Britain.

Trust chairman Gawain Cooper has been spearheading the campaign. He said: ‘Our trustees are bitterly disappointed that, with all the public support we have, and after having been encouraged by a senior director of the Heritage Lottery to reapply for the £330,000, again we were refused support.

‘This decision will most likely condemn The President to the scrapyard.’

He added: ‘We now need the people of Portsmouth to support us and help put pressure on the government.’

HMS President was a secret German U-boat hunter during the First World War.

She continued her service into the Second World War, where she was used to protect St Paul’s Cathedral from the Nazi bombers and as a base for the French Resistance.

Known as ‘The President’, the ship was moved from its mooring at London’s Victoria Embankment to storage at Chatham Docks in Kent, awaiting vital refurbishment on her hull and a new mooring.

But without the funding to back this, the charity was left in limbo. Bosses now hope to secure cash through the Libor grants scheme.

To join the campaign, see petition.parliament.uk/petitions/163742