Artelia project manages the restoration and fit out of HMS Caroline in time for Jutland Commemoration

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Artelia has project managed the restoration and exhibition fit-out of HMS Caroline, the last floating survivor of World War I’s infamous Battle of Jutland. The light cruiser saw action on May 31 1916 and was the focus of international centennial commemorations of the battle this year

The HMS Caroline Restoration Story

In March 2011 HMS Caroline was decommissioned by the MOD and gifted to the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and following successful funding bids the extensive conservation and restoration programme commenced.   HMS Caroline had been docked in Belfast since the 1920s and was used as the headquarters for the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in Belfast. As such she was adapted to suit that role by the inclusion of a Drill Hall, Rifle Range, Captains Flat, messes, offices and training facilities.

Funded by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) the immediate safeguarding of the ship was undertaken to make her water tight and carry out historical recording and development of the conservation management plan.   The safeguarding work included detailed surveys of the hold tanks, repairing scuppers, portholes, superstructure and decking.   During the decking repairs it was found that there were significant problems with the timber decking and steel decks below it, so it was necessary to record and remove all decking.  In removing the rifle range we found original decking planks which were carefully removed and stored for possible future use.

In parallel with the safeguarding work and in record time, we submitted a successful Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) round two application which allowed for the adaption of the ship to commence in July 2015.   Partnership funding for this work was provided by Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment (DETI).

In less than twelve months our project team’s mission was to have the ship ready to host the Battle of Jutland Commemoration event on 31 May 2016 and open to visitors the day after.   The adaptation works have created a truly accessible experience of the only surviving WWI battle ship of its kind. The removal of relatively modern interventions has revealed the true character of the ship’s construction and use as a battle ship. Uniquely, for this type of vessel, the upper and lower decks have been made wheel chair accessible so everyone can experience the history of life on HMS Caroline from its Jutland to Royal Navy Reserve era.

At the end of the 2016 visitor season HMS Caroline will go to a dry dock for hull conservation works. When she returns to Alexandra Dock, she will be moored with her bow facing out of the dock and have new mooring arrangements, accessible gangways and onshore facilities.