The Cold War Centre Project Team regrets to announce that the ambition to create a Cold War Centre, with HMS COURAGEOUS a decommissioned nuclear-powered submarine, at its heart cannot be delivered in the immediate future.
The Covid shut down along with the current financial crises have placed severe constraints on museum funding, Heritage Lottery funding and Grant in Aid from the MoD. This has led the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) to withdraw from leading the initial and subsequent phases of the project and indeed all naval heritage initiatives in Plymouth & Devonport.
The loss of NMRN support led the Project Team to review a number of alternatives. No other credible organization could be found or created to replace NMRN. The reality is that, even in a strong economic climate, raising funds through public grants (Heritage Lottery bids and similar) requires specialist skills and a track record of successful bids.
Nevertheless, much has been achieved and it is worth outlining key points. £40,000 was raised within eight weeks through a Crowdfunding appeal to carry out an objective Feasibility Study into the practicalities and costs of preserving Courageous. The work was carried out in 2021 and identified that moving Courageous to 1 Dock as a public attraction is both practical and achievable.
A route map to obtain the necessary permissions from Defence Nuclear Organization (DNO), MoD and other stakeholders to allocate Courageous as a permanent maritime heritage display has been identified and agreed in principle.
Courageous could be moved into a restored No. 1 Dock, South Yard at a cost of between £3m – £5m (2022 prices).
Despite the loss of professional museum support and the consequent stalling of plans to create a Cold War Centre or move Courageous to No 1 Dock, maintaining Courageous as a public attraction remains a crucial objective. The Project Team work with the Naval Base Commander and other organizations to open the boat to the public as soon as practical in 2023. It will also review with Naval Base Commander alternative management models, such as a dedicated Community Interest Company or a Charity, to manage Courageous as a visitor attraction without calling upon Naval Base Commander resources. Remaining funds from that initially raised to support the Feasibility Study will be transferred to the Courageous Project.
In the future, when the financial climate has improved, the challenge for the submarine community, submarine industry, maritime heritage groups, museums and local government will be to re-engage with the already agreed route map and plan to deliver the ambition to create a Cold War Centre, in Devonport with HMS COURAGEOUS a decommissioned nuclear-powered submarine at its heart.