Northern Ireland

HMS Caroline loss inconceivable, says former NIO minister

HMS Caroline
Image caption WWI cruiser HMS Caroline can still be seen at Alexandra Dock in Belfast

A former Northern Ireland Office minister whose great-uncle was commander of a historic warship now berthed in Belfast has said moving it to Portsmouth would be "inconceivable".

The National Museum of the Royal Navy have said they are planning to move HMS Caroline away from Belfast.

The historic World War One warship has been berthed at Alexandra Dock in Belfast since 1923.

Sir Richard Needham said "it would be a disaster to lose it for Belfast".

His comments came as a new campaign aimed at keeping the ship in Northern Ireland was officially launched on Friday.

Built in 1914 in Birkenhead, HMS Caroline was one of the fastest warships of the time, capable of speeds of up to 30 knots.

She is the last surviving ship, of any nation, that fought at the battle of Jutland in 1916.

Sir Needham said it was "vital" that the ship was kept in Belfast.

"Caroline is the only ship afloat that fought in the greatest sea battle in the history of the world," he said.

"She has been the centre of the Royal Navy in Northern Ireland."

The former minister said people simply did not know enough about her.

Around 80% of the ship is original and it has what are thought to be the only surviving in-situ World War I turbines in the world.

In later years, the ship was used as a training vessel for the Royal Navy reserve but was decommissioned in March 2011.

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