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HMS Caroline remains temporarily closed. Find The Latest COVID-19 Updates Here.


Unique Second World War survivor about to undertake 400 mile journey to Hartlepool

Final preparations are about to commence to enable a unique Second World War survivor, Rescue Motor Launch (RML) 497, to undertake a 400 mile journey to Hartlepool. RML 497 is about to undertake her most important journey to date, when she will be barged approximately 400 nautical miles from her current resting place on Southampton Water, to the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool.

This week, preparations will commence to enable the 70-tonnes ship to be cradled onto a submersible barge, ahead of being transported up the east coast and then carefully craned into place alongside the National Museum and placed into a temporary building. Weather permitting, it is hoped RML 497 will arrive in Hartlepool in time for an official launch event on Monday 28th January. Her relocation is in anticipation of a conservation programme to get her on permanent display telling the rich naval story of the coastal forces in the North Sea.

The exciting move has been made possible by a Tees Valley Combined Authority grant of £499,250 which combined with an investment by the National Museum forms part of a larger regeneration project to the value of £1.1 million. The 34-meters long RML 497 has had a varied history. From rescuing fallen airmen in the Second World War to carrying people as a much-loved ferry service in the South West. She was acquired by the Portsmouth-based National Museum of the Royal Navy in 2015 following a grant of £90,600 from the National Lottery’s Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £5,000 each from the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust and the National Museum.

She was one of the first mass-produced vessels, likened to the modern-day flat pack. Although this type of craft was very much needed by the Royal Navy as the war progressed it was not possible for them to be built in the Admiralty's very busy shipyards.  The designs were therefore spread around the small boatyards of the UK, which were well capable of undertaking the construction of these wooden hull craft, quickly and easily.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, the Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “The imminent arrival of RML 497 is absolutely fantastic news. We’ve worked hard alongside colleagues at the Tees Valley Combined Authority to secure funding for the move and we really can’t wait to see RML 497 in Hartlepool. She has a strong connection to the North Sea and her story is fit to be told at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool.

“Securing the arrival of the National Museum in Hartlepool in 2016 ensured the town has a visitor destination of national significance and I believe adding RML 497 to the collection is a real sign of intent for the future.”

“Bringing her to Hartlepool is also another important part of our wider regeneration of the Waterfront site and I believe her arrival will help attract more visitors to Hartlepool and grow our visitor economy, supporting businesses and jobs within the area.”

Roslyn Adamson, General Manager of The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool said: “She is an amazing survivor, full of original features, which is incredible for a wooden warship built for service during the Second World War. Her arrival will be a real spectacle and we can’t wait to welcome her on site. We are thrilled to have her here and are formulating exciting plans to get her conserved and put on display. There is a really strong story about coastal forces in the north east that can be told through her.”

Help us make history and restore RML 497

If you would like to help towards the conservation of RML 497, you can support the project by donating on our Justgiving page. 

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