HMS Caroline saved with WW1 warship to remain in Belfast

HMS Caroline.

The last remaining warship from one of the First World War's most famous sea battles, is to remain in Belfast.

HMS Caroline has been in the city since 1924 and reopened as a tourist attraction seven years ago.

Economy Minister Gordon Lyons MLA says the long-term future of the ship has been secured with it staying in Belfast until at least 2038.

There had been fears that the ship could have been towed to Portsmouth after being closed for much of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, agreement has been reached between the Department for the Economy, the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The ship is earmarked to reopen at the end of the summer.

Gordon Lyons said, "HMS Caroline further enhances our maritime heritage assets and adds to the tourism offer for both Belfast and Northern Ireland. I look forward to the attraction welcoming visitors again soon and helping this area of Belfast to become even more vibrant."

The National Museum of the Royal Navy owns HMS Caroline and led the original capital project to restore the ship.

NMRN Director General Professor Dominic Tweddle said he was very pleased that the ship’s future in Belfast is sealed.

"The closure of this remarkable First World War Survivor two years ago was heartbreaking for all at the Museum. It has remained our fervent desire to secure a sustainable future that will enable us to continue to conserve and maintain her; with the aim to once again share her story with the people of Belfast, and the millions of tourists that visit Northern Ireland every year.

"With this agreement now secured, we can plan a future for the ship and look once again to welcome visitors to her later this year."

NMRN Chief of Staff and HMS Caroline Project Director Captain John Rees OBE said: “We have been committed to protecting the ship’s central position in Belfast’s maritime history because it is now viewed as a shared space in which Northern Ireland’s communities can celebrate and share cultural events, explore the past and also commemorate the contribution made by 10,000 Irish sailors who died at sea in World War One."