HMS CAROLINE TO MARK 10,000 IRISH SAILORS IN WW1

Irish contribution to naval effort will be acknowledged at Battle of Jutland centenary on May 31 
 
HMS Caroline, one of the world’s most historically significant war ships, will be the focus of a unique commemoration of 10,000 Irish sailors who participated in the First World War on Tuesday May 31. Moored in Alexandra Dock in Belfast’s Queen’s Island the ship which has undergone a major Heritage Lottery Fund-backed restoration programme, will join commemorative events across the UK including Jutland Bank in the North Sea and Kirkwall in Orkney where the British Grand Fleet mobilized ahead of the Battle of Jutland.
 
HMS Caroline has been the subject of a comprehensive restoration plan following the awards of HLF and National Heirtage Memorial Fund grants of £12.5m and a further investment by Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy.
 
Repairs to the ship which weighs 4,000 tonnes and is 122 metres long were completed last year making the ship safe for the next stage of restoration. The work is being conducted by Belfast-based ship fitting specialists Blu-Marine. The ship will function as a world-class museum, a cross-community centre and a meetings and conferences venue. 
 
National Museum of the Royal Navy Chief of Staff Captain John Rees OBE who led the complex funding and restoration programme in partnership with the Department for the Economy says May 31 is one of the most significant dates in the naval calendar. 
 
“HMS Caroline is a living legend, the only floating survivor from Jutland. While we breathe new life into Caroline we are particularly proud to have her ready to mark the centenary of Jutland in which thousands of sailors on both sides lost their lives. This will be a solemn occasion to remind us of the sacrifice of 350 Irish men who died in the battle. It will also mark the memory of 10,000 Irish men who participated in the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy or in other capacities at sea in the First World War,” says Captain Rees. 
 
Following the commemoration, the ship will be ready for public opening on June 1 2016. This will mark the first stage of a series of phased openings. The second and third phases will see the ship dry docked for hull conservation works in the winter and then the completion of onshore facilities. 
 
First Minister Arlene Foster who has supported the project from the beginning, says: “As a strong advocate and supporter of HMS Caroline, today is a day that I have looked forward to for some time.
 
“HMS Caroline immeasurably adds to the tourism offering for both Belfast and Northern Ireland. She is a natural addition to the impressive list of attractions in the Titanic Quarter.
 
“Just as she survived the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago, Caroline is now embarking on a new and important chapter in her history. This fabulous ship is a jewel in the crown of maritime history and today is the result of a tremendous collective effort. 
 
“I commend all those who have worked tirelessly to restore Caroline to her former glory.”
 
Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund Sir Peter Luff says: "It is immensely gratifying to see HMS Caroline open to the public.  This is only possible thanks to £12.2m grant from National Lottery players - the largest the Heritage Lottery Fund has ever made in Northern Ireland.  HMS Caroline is a ship of huge significance to Belfast and internationally too. Skilfully restored, she will now add significantly to the wealth of HLF-supported heritage attractions in Titanic Quarter."
 

HMS Caroline 1916