Forgotten warship HMS Plymouth to make emotional homecoming?
The last surviving warship from the 1982 Falkland Islands conflict could visit Plymouth if plans to save her from the scrapyard succeed.
A trust set up to rescue HMS Plymouth revealed yesterday that she could spend some time in the city where she was built on the way to her final berth.
A legal deal is being thrashed out this week to secure the future of HMS Plymouth, in whose wardroom the Argentine surrender was signed. She lies rusting at a Birkenhead quayside after six years of failed attempts to save her. Peel Ports, her owners, have sold her to a Turkish ship breaker and she is expected to leave the country at the end of September. 2012
Chris Swift of the newly formed HMS Plymouth Trust, said yesterday that they had a verbal agreement with Peel Ports to buy the ship but that lawyers were working this week to draw up documents He said they understood the cost would be in the region of £400,000, which would include compensation for Peel Ports breaking the scrap deal.
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The trust has launched a fundraising drive to acquire HMS Plymouth.
Mr Swift said she would be berthed at a port in the North East, where she would be used as a floating museum, a sea training base, and a conference centre. He said a council in the North East was prepared to accept HMS Plymouth – but he refused to name the area.
The ship would be made seaworthy and then towed to her new home. "We are certainly looking to bring her to Plymouth on the way," Mr Swift said.
"We are looking at calling in at ports to build up her reputation for when she gets to her new home. Part of the problem with earlier attempts to save her was that she did not have any kind of reputation with local people in Liverpool and Birkenhead. There was no local concern about her condition."
Penelope Brudenell-Pryke, vice chairman of the trust, said: "Obviously she wouldn't look her best. She would be seaworthy but would not have had the cosmetic work she needs. We haven't yet sorted out the details but we would love her to visit Plymouth. We haven't approached anyone but I am sure the people of Plymouth would welcome her."
Ms Brudenell-Pryke said that when HMS Plymouth was run as a visitor attraction by the now-defunct Warship Preservation Trust she was making money.
The Warship Preservation Trust had seven ships in all, and Ms Brudenell-Pryke said income from HMS Plymouth helped to support the other six. She said it was still not clear exactly how much it would cost to renovate the ship because the trust was being denied access to her. "She is a remarkable ship and part of our history. If we can make use of her for benefit of the youth of today and tomorrow, that's what this is all about."
Campaigners have spent years battling to secure a future for the ship, which was built in Plymouth in 1959.
When she was first decommissioned in 1988 Lord Owen, the former Devonport MP, and a group of volunteers fought to keep her in Plymouth. For a year she was at berthed at Trinity Pier in Millbay Docks. She finally ended up in Birkenhead.
In a joint partnership between the Warship Preservation Trust and Wirral Borough Council she was opened to the public in May 1992.
The trust went into voluntary liquidation and the ships were closed to visitors in 2006. HMS Plymouth was closed up and left to deteriorate at Vittoria Dock.
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