HMS Plymouth countdown to scrapyard is put on hold
THE countdown to save the veteran warship HMS Plymouth from the scrapyard was stopped today.
A spokesman for the HMS Plymouth Trust, the group set up to try to buy the ship from its owners, Peel Ports, said it had taken down the countdown clock on its own website.
The trust said earlier this year that it had until the end of September to raise £400,000 to buy the ship and turn her into a floating museum and training ship.
"We were told September originally," Chris Swift, the trust's spokesman said. "More recent communication from Peel Ports has said September isn't relevant."
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The Herald was unable to get any comment from Peel Ports. We have now stopped our own countdown clock while the 11th hour development is sorted out. With only three days to go until the original deadline, the trust had raised £70,000 – including pledges – less than a fifth of its £400,000 target.
In a statement it rejected claims by Peel Ports that the export of the ship to an unnamed Turkish ship break was going ahead. It said it had been unable to find out where HMS Plymouth was destined, and added that large commercial companies had said they were not involved.
"One argument put forward by Peel Ports for not supporting our cause is the lack of funds we have. Our target of £400,000 has now reached £70,000, with one supporter pledging £38,000 in the last few days.
"The support for the ship is growing every day. We have received offers of help to survey the ship, and also a potential offer of a tug to tow her to her new berth."
The group challenged the secrecy over the identity of the Turkish ship breaker.
"We are told we can't be informed of who the ship has been sold to as it's confidential, and yet everyone knows where HMS Ark Royal is being scrapped as this is in the public domain.
"Why the secrecy?"
"The HMS Plymouth Trust and HMS Plymouth Association will continue to fight to save this ship, and we ask for your continued support either by donating to the cause or lobbying your MP or anyone you feel can throw their weight behind this cause."
The ship, which was built in Devonport in 1959, has been promised a berth in Northumberland if she can be saved. She is the last surviving warship from the 1982 Falklands War, where she provided vital support. The surrender of Argentine forces on South Georgia was signed in her wardroom.
When she was first decommissioned in 1988 Lord Owen, the former Devonport MP, and a group of volunteers fought to keep her in Plymouth. For a year she was berthed at Trinity Pier in Millbay Docks. She finally ended up in Birkenhead.
In a joint partnership between the Warship Preservation Trust and Wirral Borough Council she was opened to the public in May 1992, along with a number of other warships.
The trust went into voluntary liquidation and the ships were closed to visitors in 2006. HMS Plymouth was closed up and left to deteriorate at Vittoria Dock.
To donate: Send cheques to Navy Training Corps HQ, PO Box 328, Malvern, WR14 9GB. Give online at MSTSBlyth.org.uk. For details email email@example.com