Sunday, September 11, 2016

Your Help Needed Now! Sign to Save World War One U Boat Hunter

An Appeal to the Freight, Logistics and Shipping Communities and Beyond
Shipping News Feature
UK – One of Britain’s most iconic vessels, the HMS President, the last surviving World War One ‘Q’ ship, has been refused Lottery funding of £330,000 intended to secure its future. The Q ships were the secret German U Boat submarine hunters which shadowed the Atlantic convoys with their weaponry concealed, only revealing their true nature when under attack. During WWll the ship was moored on the Thames and she was used to protect St Paul's Cathedral from the Luftwaffe and as a base for the French Resistance. Now a petition seeks to raise 10,000 signatures from the freight, logistics and shipping communities and beyond to try and save this unique vessel.

HMS President Preservation Trust, the charity that owns the President oversaw her move from her 92 year mooring on London's Victoria Embankment in February 2016 to storage at Chatham Docks in Kent awaiting refurbishment of her hull and a new mooring in Central London due to the major Thames Tideway Tunnel sewer Project. The City of London Corporation have in principle given their support to a new mooring for the President adjacent to London Bridge on the North bank of the River Thames. However without the funding required to pay for this, the Trustees of the Charity are unable to move forward.

The President is planned to be a key part of the WW1 Centenary celebrations in 2018 as she celebrates her own centenary that year. The charity has the support of numerous senior Politicians and Peers, the Military and related organisations and charities such as the National Maritime Museum of the Royal Navy, 14-18 Now and the National Historic Dockyard. Prime Ministers have described HMS President as 'Part of Britain's Heritage', Jeremy Hunt MP when Culture Media and Sports Minister described it as 'A National Treasure', David Evernett Minister for Heritage has said HMS President presents a 'compelling case for funding'.

Despite this support, and the thousands of members of the public who receive monthly newsletters from the charity, the Heritage Lottery Fund, to whom the charity had been encouraged to apply a second time after being refused £330,000 funding in January 2016, said although 'the application was fundable' they considered it 'too high risk' and other projects were funded in preference to The President. Gawain Cooper, Chairman of the Charity said:

''Our Trustees are bitterly disappointed that with all the public support we have, and after having been encouraged by a senior director of the Heritage Lottery to reapply for the £330,000 , that again we were refused support. This decision will most likely condemn the President to the scrap yard''.

The charity’s last resort is an appeal and application to the Treasury for Government funding and it is hoped that new Chancellor, Philip Hammond, who was previously Defence Secretary and aware of the importance of The President to the nation and military, will now step in and save her.

Anyone who wishes to pledge their support can help by signing the petition to the government here and donations can be made through this link.

HMS President is now generally known as HMS President (1918) to distinguish her from the similarly named Royal Navy Reserve base in St. Katherine’s dock in the Pool of London. She was christened HMS Saxifrage when constructed as one of the first anti-submarine vessels, the Flower Class. These ships evolved into the escort sloops which accompanied the WWll convoys and then into today’s modern frigates. In 1922 she took her current name and was converted to serve as a Royal Naval Reserve drill ship.

Photo: HMS President painted by Tobias Rehberger in 2014 to commemorate the use of dazzle camouflage in World War 1.