Ray Of Hope For One Of Last WWI Ships
Navy

Ray Of Hope For One Of Last WWI Ships

One of three remaining British First World War vessels could be saved by money from an unlikely source. HMS President, an active U-boat...

Ray Of Hope For One Of Last WWI Ships
One of three remaining British First World War vessels could be saved by money from an unlikely source.
 
HMS President, an active U-boat hunter in the conflict, had been docked in London for over nine decades before being moved to Chatham earlier this year.
 
She'd been destined for the scrapyard but now, according to Ship Management International, LIBOR fines may be diverted to help her.
 
It's given the ship a second chance after the HMS President Preservation Trust previously failed to raise the necessary £330,000, after being refused Heritage Lottery funding.  
 
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HMS President as she looked before being repainted in 2014, with the camouflage she would have borne during WWI 
 
The Treasury now says it is going to give "full consideration" to saving HMS President during the government’s Autumn Statement on 23rd November. 
 
As LIBOR funding is already used to support military charities such as the Royal Voluntary Service, it would not be out of character for some of the funds to also be used to help save the ship.
 
 
The warship moved to enable work to take place on the Thames Tideway Tunnel.
 
She was since refused £330,000 of Heritage Lottery funding, which would end hopes for a return to a new London mooring if she were not saved in some other way.
 
Gawain Cooper, chairman of the HMS President Preservation Trust, was quoted as saying by www.thecity.co.uk:
"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, that again we were refused support. This decision will most likely condemn the President to the scrap yard."
The charity had hoped to refurbish President's hull and return her to the City, adjacent to London Bridge.
 
President was both a flower-class vessel, known as HMS Saxifrage during her time in service and assigned to escorting merchant ships, and a Q-ship, one meant to look like a merchant vessel to fool U-boats, but that actually had concealed weapons.
 
According to Hugh Strachan's series The First World War, Q-ships played a role in escalating submarine warfare.
 
 
Prior to the deployment of these disguised submarine hunters, U-boats used to stop merchant vessels, inspect them for armaments, then allow the crew to board lifeboats before destroying the ships if weapons were found aboard.
 
But when the British began ambushing the subs when they sidled up beside them to do an inspection, U-boat tactics evolved too. Shoot to kill became the new norm.
 
In turn, Flower-class ships were given dazzle camouflage schemes to confuse the range-finders of World War One German subs.
 
HMS President was painted in 2014 to commemorate WWI dazzle camouflage, making it more difficult to see which end was which
  
HMS President was moored permanently on the Thames in 1922, near Blackfriars, where she served as a Royal Naval Reserve drill ship until the late 80s.
 
In the Second World War, she was used to protect St Paul's Cathedral from the Luftwaffe and as a base for the French Resistance. In recent years she's been used as an events venue and office space facility.
 
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An ancestor of modern anti-submarine frigates, President is one of the last three surviving Royal Navy warships of the First World War, along with HMS Caroline in Belfast, and the HMS M33 in Portsmouth dockyard.
 
She was the last Royal Navy warship to wear Victorian battleship livery - with black hull, white superstructure and buff yellow funnel and masts.
 
Photography courtesy of Gary Houston and Colin Smith. Cover image: The Wub.
 

 

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