Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport visits County Council's rare World War One survivor
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt. Hon. Maria Miller, visited Hampshire County Council to discuss a number of issues linked to her portfolio.
During the visit this month, the Secretary of State also took the opportunity to visit one of the last remaining historic ships linked directly to WWI - the HMS M33. This Royal Navy coastal bombardment ship, built in 1915, saw active service in the Mediterranean throughout World War I and provided support for the landing of Allied forces during the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915-16.
The HMS M33 is only one of two British First World War warships to survive both the war and the ravages of time, most recently with the support of Hampshire County Council who purchased HMS M33 in 1990 and invested in a programme to restore her. She is now berthed in a dry dock just to the side and astern of Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, available for visitors to view from the dockside.
Hampshire County Council and the National Museum of the Royal Navy are working in partnership on a project to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign in 2015. With the support of external investment the aim is to open up public access to the ship and bring to life the stories of those sailors and soldiers who served with HMS M33 and were protected by her.
This internationally significant project will complement the current Portsmouth Historic Dockyard offer and form part of a wider commemorative programme across cultural venues during the 2014-18 period marking the internationally significant role of Hampshire and the two Solent cities, Portsmouth and Southampton, during World War I.
Hampshire County Council Executive Member for Culture and Recreation, Councillor Keith Chapman, said: "Hampshire and its communities played a unique and internationally significant role during World War I. Hampshire has a long established military association, and the two Solent cities played very significant roles during The Great War; Portsmouth with its clear links to the Royal Navy, and Southampton as the main port of military embarkation from which over eight million troops and their equipment departed for mainland Europe during WWI."
"The HMS M33 is unique to have survived both the war and the ravages of time. Currently, it is not possible for visitors to access inside, so to be able to offer people the chance in future to step on board and experience the historic vessel would be a fitting tribute as we mark the centenary of World War I."
The Secretary of State was particularly interested in the ship though her role as leading efforts nationally to mark and commemorate WWI. Having toured the ship, the Secretary of State said: "I was delighted to be able to visit the HMS M33 in Portsmouth, one of only two surviving battleships from World War One. I applaud Hampshire County Council and The National Museum of the Royal Navy for the work they are doing together to conserve and restore this important historic ship."