The "King's Warship" Secures Permanent Berth - If Funds Can be Raised
A home in Portsmouth Naval Base awaits the ‘King’s own warship’ – veteran minesweeper HMS Bronington – if enthusiasts can save her.
A plum site in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has been offered to the 70-year-old warship - with the tantalizing prospect of hundreds of thousands of visitors every year – providing she can be salvaged and restored.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy has offered a permanent home for Bronington, which was commanded through most of 1976 by a then Lieutenant/Lieutenant Commander Wales... but only once the ship is an a suitable state.
Right now, Bronington is in a sorry condition, partially sunk at her mooring in Birkenhead.
Despite outward appearances, however, surveyors say she is not beyond restoration – hence the concerted efforts by the HMS Bronington Trust to save the ship as a museum, a role she performed for many years after retiring from RN service in the 1980s.
Courtesy HMS Bronington Trust
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.
The immediate future is focused finding a fund-raising consultant to build the case for the ambitious restoration project and submit an application for funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
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 $1.3 million
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 (estimated to take two-thee years) which would be assisted by a large and very active Ton-class association.
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.
To date, crowdfunding and donations from veterans (collectively and individually) have raised more than $16,500 via https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-restore-hms-bronington.
Mike McBride, trustee director, said the response to date from so many people offering money, time and support to raise the Bronington had been “humbling”, with the King himself showing keen interest in the progress.
Mr McBride is confident the ship will be saved:
“Everything is in place to rescue HMS Bronington and return her to her final squadron base port of Portsmouth – if we can get funding,” he said. “She would look good next to HMS Warrior, and would complement the HMS Vernon-Mine Warfare Memorial up the road at Gunwharf Quays.”
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.