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HMS Caroline Move for Underwater Refurbishment


HMS Caroline is a 3,700-ton veteran light cruiser, the last remaining vessel from the World War One Battle of Jutland and is presently a floating five-star museum located at Alexandra Dock, Belfast.

HMS Caroline serves as a monument to the 10,000 Irishmen who lost their lives at sea between 1914 and 1918.

As part of a continuing restoration project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with support from Department for the Economy and Tourism NI, it was planned to move HMS Caroline from her moorings in Alexandra Dock, Belfast to Harland & Wolff dry dock Belfast for the first time in 32 years to complete all underwater refurbishment.

The planned work included grit blasting of the hull and main superstructure, part of which was used as a cinema housing an audio/visual presentation of the Battle of Jutland.


LOC London was instructed by Artelia UK acting on behalf of the various interested parties, including the underwriters, to provide marine and engineering consultancy to determine the feasibility of moving the vessel the short distance between her current location and the dry dock.  We were subsequently instructed to attend the departure from Alexandra Dock.

Simon Pollard, a senior naval architect and Paul Hall, master mariner, attended the vessel to survey the structural strength and watertight integrity of the vessel and to determine the risks, method and remedial work required to allow the vessel to be moved from her present floating location to the dry dock.  We also checked with Harland and Wolff their operation and the location of the positioning of the vessel in the dry dock.  The actual dry docking and location of blocks was not part of our remit but recommendations were made to our client with respect to hull thickness checks and positioning of the vessel in the dry dock.

Kamrul Islam, a master mariner, attended for the towage.  He confirmed that the preparations of HMS Caroline were complete and that the local harbour tugs were suitable.

The internal water-tight subdivision integrity of the vessel had been compromised by the installation of fire detection systems and modern lighting cable ducts through once watertight bulkheads. The two upper decks were kitted out with memorabilia and soft furnishings on display to the public.  Various spaces had expensive audio/visual and inter-active equipment installed.

On her moorings, the vessel relied on shore power for fire detection and shore water for the fire main and general services.  The vessel had one bilge pump in operation to control a minor leak.  Our main safety concerns for the tow were the on board access (lighting) and fire detection once the shore services were disconnected.  We also discussed means to control any ingress of water in any of the various compartments.  It was agreed to place two generators and five submersible pumps in various locations.

We also briefed the curator on general dry dock procedures so that preparations could be made to remove, secure and protect the various museum exhibits and to protect the soft furnishings and equipment from the grit blasting and other potential mechanical damage.

The vessel was successfully towed from Alexandra dock to the Harland and Wolff dry dock.