The Deed of Gift that will secure the future one of the UK's few surviving WWI warships has been signed, launching HMS M.33 on its homeward voyage that will see it preserved for future generations.
Hampshire County Council has officially transferred HMS M.33 to the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
Last year, the County Council, with the National Museum of the Royal Navy successfully bid for £1.79 million Heritage Lottery funding towards the preservation of HMS M.33, one of the UK's most significant surviving First World War warships. Since then, the partners have been putting together detailed plans to make it possible for members of the public to go on board for the first time and fully appreciate her contribution to the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915.
HMS M.33 was saved by Hampshire County Council in 1990 in order to preserve her heritage for future generations across the county, and the nation. Currently in a historic dry dock in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, alongside the new Mary Rose Museum and Nelson's flagship HMS Victory, there are plans to complete her preservation and interpretation in time to be part of the centenary commemorations for the Gallipoli Campaign in 2015.
HMS M.33 had been built in 1915 as a coastal bombardment vessel. She served in the Dardanelles Campaign between 1915 and 1918, including providing support for the Gallipoli Campaign during 1915. In 1919 she was refitted and returned to action in the Russian Civil War, where she covered the withdrawal of Allied and White Russian troops from North Russia during the Dvina River Campaign. Following her return from Russia, she spent the rest of her active life in Portsmouth Harbour.
Councillor Keith Chapman, Executive Member for Culture, Recreation and Countryside at Hampshire County Council, said: "This warship is hugely significant for the region, the UK and indeed nationally as one of the last remaining World War I warships. Now that her preservation can be completed and people will eventually be able to visit her at the Historic Dockyard as part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy's collection, her story, and those of the men who served on her, will never be lost."
Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said: "M33 is an astonishing survivor from the Gallipoli campaign, indeed from the First World War as a whole. She has been well looked after by Hampshire County Council and it is a pleasure and privilege to work with them to open M.33 to the public for the centenary of Gallipoli in 2015."