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It is sometimes assumed that the historic naval ships in this country are limited to HMS Belfast and HMS Victory together with the few preserved ships at Portsmouth, when in fact there are many vessels open to the public in other cities and ports. Here are few that you might not be aware of as you start to plan summer holidays and weekends away.

(A quick TMT “government health warning”: it is recommended that you check the web for the latest updates on each ship before visiting as maintenance programmes and the like might mean that access is limited at certain times of the year.)

HMS Courageous. One of the two nuclear subs that worked around the Falkland’s in 1982. She was commissioned in 1971 and was taken out of service in 1992. In 2002 she was removed from mothballs and moved to No. 3 Dock where she was open to the public as a unique exhibit in the UK. Problems with the caisson, which seals the dock, necessitated her move back to 3 Basin in 2007 where she is currently once again open to the public. Visits to Courageous can be arranged by telephone on 01752 552389 or 552326.

There is an active Association which has a website at:

HMS Alliance.

Photo: Submarine Museum

HMS Alliance is a Royal Navy A-class, Amphion-class or Acheron-class submarine, laid down towards the end of the Second World War and completed in 1947. The submarine is the only surviving example of the class, having been a memorial and museum ship since 1981. The Amphion-class submarines were designed for use in the Far East, where the size of the Pacific Ocean made long range, high surface speed and relative comfort for the crew important features to allow for much larger patrol areas and longer periods at sea than British submarines operating in the Atlantic or Mediterranean had to contend with.

Alliance was transferred on permanent loan to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum at Gosport, Hampshire in February 1978. She now stands, together with the Museum, as a memorial to the 4,334 British submariners who gave their lives in both world wars and to the 739 officers and men lost in peacetime submarine disasters.

HMS Cavalier. Cavalier is a retired C-class destroyer, laid down by J. Samuel White and Company at East Cowes on 28 March 1943, launched on 7 April 1944,[1] and commissioned on 22 November 1944.

She served in World War II and in various commissions in the Far East until she was decommissioned in 1972. After decommissioning she was preserved as a museum ship and currently resides at Chatham Historic Dockyard.

There is an active association which has a website at:

HMS Gannet. HMS Gannet was a Royal Navy Doterel-class screw sloop launched on 31 August 1878. She was commissioned on 17 April 1879,[1] and was classified as both a sloop of war and a colonial cruiser. She was capable of nearly 12 knots under full steam or 15 knots under sail. She became a training ship in the Thames in 1903, and was then lent as a training ship for boys in the Hamble from 1913.

The ship was turned over to the Maritime Trust in 1968 so that she could be restored. In 1987 the Chatham Historic Dockyard chartered Gannet from the Maritime Trust and started a restoration programme to return the ship to its 1888 appearance — the only time she saw naval combat. In 1994 ownership of the vessel was passed to the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, where, listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, she remains today on display as a museum ship.


HMS Holland. Holland 1 (or HM submarine Torpedo Boat No 1) was the first submarine commissioned by the Royal Navy, the first in a six-boat batch of the Holland-class submarine. She was lost in 1913 while under tow to the scrapyard following decommissioning. Recovered in 1982, she was put on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport.

Photo: TripAdvisor

HMS Ocelot. HMS Ocelot was laid down by Chatham Dockyard on 17 November 1960, and launched on 5 May 1962.[2] The boat was commissioned into the Royal Navy on 31 January 1964.[2] Ocelot was the last submarine built for the Royal Navy at Chatham Dockyard, although three more Oberons; Ojibwa, Onondaga and Okanagan—were built for the Royal Canadian Navy

HMS Ocelot was paid off in August 1991 as the conventional submarine fleet of the RN began to decline, making way for the nuclear fleet. She was sold in 1992 and preserved as a fully “tourable” museum in Chatham Historic Dockyard. In November 2013 the interior of HMS Ocelot was added to Google Street View.


HMS Wellington. HMS Wellington (launched Devonport, 1934) is a Grimsby-class sloop, formerly of the Royal Navy. During the Second World War, she served as a convoy escort ship in the North Atlantic. The Grimsby-class anti-submarine sloops of 1933-36 were the predecessors of the Black Swan class of 1939.

Photo: & Barry Graham

Wellington is now moored alongside the Victoria Embankment, at Temple Pier, on the River Thames in London, England, as the headquarters ship of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, where she is known as HQS Wellington.


HMS Warrior. HMS Warrior is a 40-gun steam-powered armoured frigate[Note 1] built for the Royal Navy in 1859–61. She was the name ship of the Warrior-class ironclads. Warrior and her sister ship HMS Black Prince were the first armour-plated, iron-hulled warships, and were built in response to France’s launching in 1859 of the first ocean-going ironclad warship, the wooden-hulled Gloire. Warrior spent her active career with the Channel Squadron. She was placed in reserve in 1875, and was “paid off” – decommissioned – in 1883.

The ship was converted into an oil jetty in 1927 and remained in that role until 1979, at which point she was donated by the Navy to the Maritime Trust for restoration. The restoration process took eight years, during which many of her features and fittings were either restored or recreated. When this was finished she returned to Portsmouth as a museum ship. Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Warrior has been based in Portsmouth since 1987.

HMS Unicorn. HMS Unicorn is a surviving sailing frigate of the successful Leda class, although the original design had been modified by the time that the Unicorn was built, to incorporate a circular stern and “small-timber” system of construction.


Photo: David Forbes

Unicorn was built in peacetime at Chatham Dockyard, Kent and launched in 1824. A superstructure was built over her main deck and she was laid up “in ordinary”, serving as a hulk and a depot ship for most of the next 140 years. In fact, she only went to sea for the voyage from Chatham to Dundee, during which she was under tow. Her lack of active duty left her timbers well preserved, and in the 1960s steps were initiated to convert her to a museum ship.

Though steps were taken to restore Unicorn to a similar condition as her sister ship HMS Trincomalee, this was changed when it was discovered that the ship was the only example of a wooden frigate of her type existing in ordinary, and as a result the intention is now to preserve her in her current condition. It is thought the roof that covers her upper deck has never been replaced.

Listed as part of the National Historic Fleet, Unicorn is now a museum ship in Dundee.

HMS Trincomalee. HMS Trincomalee is a Royal Navy Leda-class sailing frigate built shortly after the end of the Napoleonic Wars. After being ordered on 30 October 1812, Trincomalee was built in Bombay, in teak, due to oak shortages in Britain as a result of shipbuilding drives for the Napoleonic Wars.

With a construction cost of £23,000, Trincomalee was launched on 12 October 1817 and sailed for Portsmouth Dockyard where she arrived on 30 April 1819. During the maiden voyage the ship arrived at Saint Helena on 24 January 1819 where she stayed for 6 days, leaving with an additional passenger, a surgeon who had attended Napoleon at Longwood House on the island.

After being fitted out at a further cost of £2,400, Trincomalee was placed in reserve until 1845, when she was re-armed with fewer guns giving greater firepower, had her stern reshaped and was reclassified as a sixth-rate spar-decked corvette.

She is now restored as a museum ship in Hartlepool. The ship’s website is:

HMS Caroline. HMS Caroline is a decommissioned C-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy that saw combat service in the First World War and served as an administrative centre in the Second World War. Caroline was launched and commissioned in 1914. At the time of her decommissioning in 2011 she was the second-oldest ship in Royal Navy service, after HMS Victory. She served as a static headquarters and training ship for the Royal Naval Reserve, based in Alexandra Dock, Belfast, Northern Ireland, for the later stages of her career. She was converted into a museum ship. From October 2016 she underwent inspection and repairs to her hull at Harland and Wolff and opened to the public on 1st July 2017 at Alexandra Dock in the Titanic Quarter in Belfast.

Caroline was the last remaining British First World War light cruiser in service, and she is the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland still afloat. She is also one of only three surviving Royal Navy warships of the First World War, along with the 1915 Monitor HMS M33 (in Portsmouth dockyard), and the Flower-class sloop HMS President (1918), (formerly HMS Saxifrage) usually moored on the Thames at Blackfriars but as from February 2016, in Number 3 Basin, Chatham.

The website address is:

Good Luck and do let us have any good photos of the ships that you take and that we can publish.

Comments on Historic Royal Navy vessels preserved in the UK

There are 2 comments on Historic Royal Navy vessels preserved in the UK

  1. Comment by J. Kelly Theisen, DDS

    J. Kelly Theisen, DDS

    The HMS Courageous was around the Falkland Islands in 1982, not 1892. I’m sure just a typo.

    1. Comment by Murray Hammick

      Murray Hammick

      Grateful for that: have corrected it!

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