Hopes to bring back sunken minesweeper to former glory

 

HMS Bronington was a minesweeper of the Royal Navy, launched on 19 March 1953. This mahogany-hulled minesweeper was one of the last of the so-called “wooden walls” – wooden-hulled naval vessels.

In March 2016, HMS Bronington sank at her moorings at Gilbrook Basin in the West Float in Birkenhead Docks. She was never raised and is still partially submerged.

Originally commissioned as HMS Humber on 4 June 1954, the vessel was renamed Bronington in 1959. The vessel was converted into a minehunter at Rosyth Dockyard between 1963 and 1965.

After being decommissioned from service, the ship was purchased in January 1989 by the Bronington Trust, a registered charity whose patron, Charles, Prince of Wales, commanded this vessel between 9 February and 15 December 1976.

For some time, the ship was berthed in the Manchester Ship Canal at Trafford Park. On 11 July 2002, she became part of the collection of the Warship Preservation Trust and was moored at Birkenhead. After the closure of the Warship Preservation Trust, she remained in storage at Birkenhead Docks.

The HMS Bronington Preservation Trust Ltd was formed on 3 September 2021 to explore the possibility of re-floating and restoring her. The trust is currently in discussion with Cammell Laird Shipyard and Peel Ports and is awaiting the results of a feasibility study to ascertain what may be achieved.  It is hoped that HMS Bronington will be restored at the Cammell Laird Shipyard using a local workforce.

HMS Bronington is registered by National Historic Ships UK (NHS UK).  NHS UK is the official voice for historic vessels and contains a significant sub-group of around 200 elite vessels, including HMS Bronington. deemed the National Historic Fleet (NHF). She is deemed worthy of the NHF because:

1.       Being of pre-eminent national or regional significance

2.       Spanning the spectrum of UK maritime history

3.       Illustrating changes in construction and technology

4.       Meriting a higher priority for long term conservation

Sadly, membership of the NHF will not prevent HMS Bronington from being scrapped, hence the trust’s efforts to save her.

The trust has recently written to HRH the Prince of Wales had an encouraging response.  A recent letter received from Clarence House states that His Royal Highness takes a keen interest in all matters to do with his former ship and is humbled by the recovery efforts for this historical naval vessel.  This project also has the support of Penny Mordaunt MP and Flick Drummond MP.

Whilst awaiting the results of the Cammell Laird feasibility study, the trust has set up a ‘gofundme’ appeal titled ‘Help Restore HMS BRONINGTON Appeal’ which can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-restore-hms-bronington

HMS Bronnington when in service.

Main Image: Mike McBride

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