National Museum of Royal Navy statement on redundancy consultation at HMS Caroline, Belfast

National Museum of Royal Navy statement on redundancy consultation at HMS Caroline, Belfast

It is with deep regret that the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) is announcing that today we have started a consultation on proposed redundancies at HMS Caroline.

We fully understand that this consultation adds to the period of uncertainty for our dedicated staff team at HMS Caroline that began with the COVID-19 enforced closure in March and continued with the decision by DfE not to support her re-opening. The result of that decision is that HMS Caroline will remain closed until the end of December 2020 at the earliest.

Whilst conversations with DfE are continuing, and the Department has made an initial offer to support staff beyond the end of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on 31st October, the future prospects for operating and re-opening the ship remain uncertain.

NMRN has therefore reluctantly decided that the interests of the HMS Caroline staff are best served by inclusion in the wider NMRN redundancy consultation that has been announced today. By taking this step the staff team will be eligible for redeployment opportunities across the NMRN Group should the discussions with DfE not progress and the permanent closure of HMS Caroline eventuate.

The NMRN Group consultation on redundancies and restructuring has been announced because the hard reality is that 81% of the Museum’s income in any normal year is self-generated. The closure of our sites until late August meant we lost 60% of annual admissions income. Currently, ticket sales are just over 50% when compared to the same period last year, trading from our shops and cafes is significantly affected and the autumn / winter period would not generate sufficient income to recover lost ground even in a normal year.

Like many in the heritage and museum sector we anticipate that the recovery of visitor numbers will stretch well into 2022. It is clear, therefore, that we need to act swiftly and make changes now. The proposed changes reflect the financial realities of the new-normal and the changed visitor numbers. The changes also reflect the results of the museum-wide discussions that were undertaken prior to COVID-19 that were designed to reorganise ourselves so we could do more, do it better and respond to the impact that digital technologies and data are having on how we work.

The HMS Caroline proposals include a reduction of 8.8 full time equivalents. The NMRN Group restructuring proposals overall include a reduction of 32 full time equivalents out of the full complement of 234, with 82 roles initially placed at risk of redundancy.  Other changes to terms and conditions are proposed; final decisions will be made once the consultation is complete.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director-General, National Museum of the Royal Navy, commented
“We are immensely proud of HMS Caroline and her dedicated staff team. Only a year ago she was shortlisted as part of the prestigious Museum of the Year competition and NMRN would be only too pleased if agreement were reached with DfE and we were able to re-open HMS Caroline once more. We strongly believe that the re-opening of HMS Caroline on a financially sustainable basis is the best option for HMS Caroline, her staff, DfE and the wider community in NI.”


Joris Minne, Director, J Comms


The National Museum of the Royal Navy, established in 2009, tells the story of the four fighting forces of the British Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Fleet Air Arm, the Submarine Service and the Surface Fleet.
The Museum Group includes the Royal Naval Museum, the Fleet Air Arm Museum, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum with HMS Alliance, Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower, the Royal Marines Museum, HMS Victory, HMS Caroline, HMS M33, HMS Warrior and NMRN Hartlepool, home to HMS Trincomalee.
HMS Caroline, the World War One light cruiser docked in Belfast since 1924 and which reopened as a museum following an £18m restoration has been selected as one of five finalists for Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019, regarded as the most prestigious museum prize in the world. The annual award celebrates innovation and exceptional achievement in museums and galleries across the UK. From 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019, the National Museum received 1,870,801 visits (2017-18: 1,334,540) to museum sites across the group, making the National Museum the 5th most visited ALVA (the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions) member outside London.

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