UK's Last D-Day Landing Craft Has a New Home
One of the last survivors of D-Day is riding high on a beach for the first time since June 1944.
Landing Craft (Tank) 7074 made her final journey by sea in the small hours of Monday morning and is ready to be installed as the main attraction at the D-Day Story museum in Southsea, UK.
The ship is the last of 800 similar vessels which delivered men, armor and material to the shores of Normandy in June 1944, restored to how she appeared during that fateful summer in the same shed where sections of the UK’s new aircraft carriers were built.
It took two attempts to get the 194-foot vessel, loaded on to a barge, from the naval base to her new home; summer storms thwarted the operation on Saturday night, but the seas and wind had calmed sufficiently for a second go at a beach landing, accomplished Monday at 0350 hours.
From there it’s a road journey to the waterfront museum where she’ll take pride of place.
Restoration of the 300-tonne craft, carried out by the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council, was slowed by a couple of months by the pandemic and the move carried out in secret at night to prevent large crowds gathering to watch the spectacle.
“Just like D-Day itself, this move required intricate planning, as high tides had to align with clear weather and local road closures,” said Nick Hewitt, Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. "The move involved placing the craft on a barge and traveling from Portsmouth Naval Base to a beach. She will then be transported by road to Southsea Common. We were hugely disappointed when we weren’t able to complete the move the first time. We have been restricted to very small windows of opportunity when the tides are right, but we also rely on calm winds and we have experienced unseasonably high wind speeds."
Beyond delivering armor onto the beach at Normandy, LCT 7074 was used to bring German prisoners back to the UK in the immediate aftermath of D-Day.
After a checkered post-war career involving conversion into a floating clubhouse and nightclub, the ship was lying in private hands, semi-derelict and sunk at her moorings at East Float Dock, Birkenhead. In 2014 she was successfully salvaged and moved to Portsmouth by The National Museum of the Royal Navy. It teamed up with Portsmouth City Council to revamp the vessel to make it the centerpiece of the D-Day Story Museum. The public will be able to step aboard LCT 7074 this autumn.
“Visitors to LCT 7074 will be able to experience D-Day like never before, they will get to step on board this historic landing craft and get a taste of what the troops in World War 2 experienced including having two refurbished tanks on display on the ship’s deck,” said Councillor Steve Pitt, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development.
This article appears courtesy of Royal Navy News and is reproduced here in an abbreviated form. The original may be found here.
The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.