Last Effort to Save Prince Charles’ HMS Bronington

Enthusiasts are staging a final bid to save ‘Prince Charles’ warship’ HMS Bronington. The minesweeper, which was commanded by the-then Lieutenant Wales for ten months in 1976, sank at her mooring on Merseyside six years ago.

The recently-formed HMS Bronington Preservation Trust Ltd believes there is a last chance to save the ship – now nearly 70 years old – before the elements finally take their toll.

It’s looking to raise around £5,000 for a dive survey – the first stage in a grand plan to raise Bronington, pump-out the flood water and then turn her into a working ship once more through continued fund-raising, sponsorship and grants.

The trust wants to see the wooden-hulled ship used to deliver yachting and diving courses, teach navigation, be hired for fishing/diving trips, filming, and used by Sea Cadets and the Prince’s Trust.

If those goals prove too much due to cost and unavailability of equipment, then Bronington would revert to becoming a static display alongside or in a dry dock, open to the public, similar to her successful years as a museum ship on the Manchester Ship Canal.

World-famous Merseyside shipbuilder Cammell Laird has agreed to take Bronington into their dry dock for restoration under their apprenticeship scheme in stages if the funding can be found.

Bronington is one of around 120 Ton-class minesweepers built in the 1950s. With hulls of mahogany, the Tons were among the last wooden warships built for the Royal Navy before it switched to today’s plastic-hulled minehunters in the 1970s.

The minesweeper served for nearly 35 years, finally decommissioning in 1988 after which she became a museum ship firstly in Manchester, then on the Wirral Peninsula.

The trust looking after her – and other vessels, including Falklands veteran HMS Plymouth – folded in 2006, since when Bronington has been neglected, eventually sinking at her moorings in Gilbrook Basin in 2016.

Despite being on the list of 200 key vessels relating to the UK’s rich maritime history, her status as part of the ‘National Historic Fleet’ will not spare her the breaker’s yard (HMS Plymouth was broken up nearly a decade ago).

Mike McBride, who served as the Weapon Engineering Officer of sister ship HMS Iveston, which frequently conducted minehunting/sweeping duties side-by-side with Bronington, said Prince Charles continued to take a keen interest in the fate of his former ship and was “humbled” by the renewed efforts to save and restore her.

“Due to her worsening condition, this will be the final push to save HMS Bronington,” said McBride.

“We are asking for help to get his project off the ground. Any donation – large or small – will be gratefully received. Should the project be abandoned, all donations will be donated to Forces charities.”

So far, the trust has raised just over £3,000 towards its target. Further donations can be made via www.gofundme.com/f/help-restore-hms-bronington

We are asking for help to get his project off the ground.

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