£1m to restore historic warship
The future of the last surviving warship of the First World War has been secured with a £1 million restoration grant.
The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) is funding the project to protect Belfast-based HMS Caroline from falling into disrepair.
This grant awarded to the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) will enable urgent repair works to the light cruiser including making the ship wind and water tight and incorporate the removal of dangerous asbestos.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the NMRN, said: "We cannot overestimate the significance of HMS Caroline. It is the only remaining floating survivor of World War One.
"NMRN is thrilled that the funding is now in place to secure it and prevent any further deterioration."
Jenny Abramsky, chairwoman of the NHMF, said: "As we approach the centenary of the First World War, the National Heritage Memorial Fund's role to protect our most important heritage at risk as a permanent memorial to those who have given their lives for this country has never felt so pertinent.
"Without question, our trustees felt it was absolutely vital that as an icon of this devastating war, HMS Caroline must be safeguarded."
Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland's Minister for the Economy, Trade and Investment, said the funding marked the beginning of a two-stage rescue plan.
She said: "The second stage will be driven by a funding application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore and preserve HMS Caroline.
"Our ultimate aim is to transform the ship into a world-class floating museum in time for the Battle of Jutland centenary in 2016, as I believe HMS Caroline has huge potential as a visitor experience."