HMS Plymouth will be towed away for scrap within weeks
THE last surviving warship from the Falklands War is only weeks away from being towed to a scrapyard, The Herald has been told.
The derelict ship has been tied up in Vittoria Dock in Birkenhead since the 2006 failure of the Warship Preservation Trust.
The Argentine surrender was signed in HMS Plymouth's wardroom after the 1982 Falklands War.
Last year a new HMS Plymouth Trust was set up in a bid to acquire the Devonport-built ship after her owners, Peel Ports, said they were selling her to a Turkish ship breaker.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
The trust said it needed to raise £400,000 to turn her into a floating museum and training ship.
But Rodney Anderton, chairman of the Merchant Navy Association in Merseyside, told The Herald this week he had learned that HMS Plymouth would soon be going into dry dock for a £250,000 hull survey before she could be towed to Turkey.
"Things are moving along and I should imagine her departure is imminent – within weeks," he said. He added the loss of HMS Plymouth would be "a disaster".
Mr Anderton said there was a lot of specialist, high-quality steel on the ship, which made it a worthwhile project in spite of the high export cost.
A spokeswoman for Peel Ports confirmed that the sale to a Turkish ship breaker had been completed late last year but refused to name the company involved. She could not say whether there were any plans to put the ship in dry dock or when the export would happen, but said the Turkish company was waiting for licences.
Laurence Sharpe-Stevens, the last remaining director of the HMS Plymouth Trust, dismissed the reports. He said he had evidence that Peel Ports had never been given formal ownership of the ship and was therefore not in a position to sell it.
"The fight goes on," Mr Sharpe-Stevens said. He told The Herald that the trust had contacted every Turkish ship breaker and none of them had admitted buying HMS Plymouth.
The Herald contacted Dido Shipping, a Greek company which owns Turkey's biggest ship breaker, Leyal, which is based in Aliaga. No one was available to comment on HMS Plymouth.
Leyal has won the contracts to recycle several British warships, including the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible and the Type 42 destroyers HMS Cardiff, HMS Newcastle, HMS-Exeter and HMS Southampton.
Meanwhile, the ship's chapel from HMS Plymouth has been removed and reassembled at the Fort Perch Rock museum on Merseyside.
Doug Darroch, the museum's curator, said the chapel arrived a week ago. "We were very pleased to acquire it and we are hoping for a few more items from the ship," he said. "It's nice that a little bit of the ship stays on the Wirral, which is like her second home.
"If any ship should be saved it's HMS Plymouth. It's a shame."
Baz Gregory, chairman of the Merchant Navy and Seafarers Association, Plymouth and Southwest, said they were "upset and disturbed" to learn of her fate. "We from the Merchant Navy know the feeling of seeing your ship being sunk. Plymouth let an important part of it's maritime history go to the scrapyard due to apathy. Shame upon us."
Comment – Page 11