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HMS Hermes was the flagship of the Royal Navy during the Falklands War, the carrier housed Harriers to protect our fleet during the months at war in the South Atlantic.

Only 4 years later she was sold to India where she served as their flagship under the name INS Viraat, until 2016 when she sailed home for the last time under her own power. This has made her the longest serving aircraft carrier in the world, after joining the Royal Navy in 1959 and being decommissioned for the second time in 2017.

When it was revealed that India was to decommissioner her, step forward Andy Trish who first graced her decks in 1981, as well as many others including the First Sea Lord attended the Indian ceremony to decommission her.

It was then that Andy had the idea to bring her back home as a museum ship rather than her heading to a scrapyard or the bottom of the ocean.

Inspired by the likes of the USS Intrepid in New York which was started by two people and is now a global attraction with a host of further attractions alongside and onboard to preserve American Naval history.

Hermes with such a rich and vibrant history is a perfect candidate to become a museum ship for Britain and act as a global attraction with the limited amount of serving aircraft carriers in the world.

It has been raised that we already have HMS Belfast to serve as our window into 20th Century Naval history but outside of WW2 her scope would be limited, not to mention having lower overheads than an aircraft carrier.

As the flagship of two navies Hermes could serve as a bridge between the histories of two nations that have been intertwined for centuries, to teach about the commonwealth and our diplomatic history with India.

As a carrier she has ample space to host multiple events at once if they are conferences, concerts or weddings. Add on top of this cabins that could be converted into a luxury accommodation and restaurant that can be used to host bookable events and experiences.

As she would be a ship that could literally host thousands of members of the public each and every day and potentially rival the 1 million yearly visitors that the USS Intrepid receives

She would also be used to commemorate the Falklands War, to teach younger generations about what happened in those islands in the South Atlantic.

She would also be offered to India free of charge for them to host special celebrations and to be used by the High Commission.

But a secondary function would be to offer opportunities to retired sailors from both countries, as to offer the best way to educate with staff members with experiences from her as both Hermes and Viraat interacting with visitors.

The biggest hurdle for Andy to overcome is the funding for the project, while he has gained considerable commercial interest to get them to fund he needs to show the public interest. This is being done through a crowdfunding campaign which currently has  days left for people to donate and can be found here.

As to why people would donate the words of Andy Trish may best serve to answer that:

“Imagine Navy days all year round on a ship that can cope with thousands of visitors daily.

Imagine holding your corporate event on the very flight deck Sea Harriers were launched to protect the Falkland Islands.  

Having dinner in the wardroom after speaking with the very people who have been to sea on her.”

44 COMMENTS

  1. I spent sometime on Hermes in 86 while she was at Devonport undergoing a refit prior to delivery to the Indian navy, she was an absolute mess there was rust everywhere and looked ready for the scrapyard.

    Not sure how the Indian navy have managed to keep her seaworthy to the current time.

    It will cost a lot money to make her into a viable museum for the UK tourist market.

  2. Great idea and I wish Andy and his team the very best of luck, but I fear there would be too many hurdles. Apart from the sheer cost of the project, where would the ship be berthed that would generate the footfall to make the plan viable? The corporate event/hotel idea would seem to lean towards London where anything west of Greenwhich is probably out of the question for a ship of her size. But would a permanent berth at Greenwhich be viable? Maybe somewhere like Liverpool, but would there be the corporate interest on which the plan surely depends? Many question to answer! One thing is for sure though – she would make a superb heliport!

  3. As much as I would love to see Hermes preserved, we couldn’t even save the much smaller and equally significant HMS Plymouth- and she was already in home waters !
    Hope I’m proved wrong…

  4. We are slowly losing our links with the Cold War navy, with all of the Type 42s, the bulk of Type 22s, Leanders, Invincibles, et al gone either to the breaker’s yard or the sea bed. As a means of maintaining living history of the Royal Navy in the Cold War era, something substantial should be retained, whether it be Hermes or something else. History becomes that much more alive if there is a real, tangible link to it.

    • The one vessel that springs to mind which has been retained is the SSN HMS Courageous.
      But you’re right Phillip it would be great if a surface ship from that era could be saved.
      I wish those attempting to preserve Hermes well, but the odds are against them.

  5. Sincere good-luck to those involved in the project, but as many have already stated, historic warship preservation in the UK has a miserable track record – most recently with the scrapping of Falklands veteran, the frigate Plymouth (F126), in 2014.
    (We do historic aircraft preservation in this country much better, as demonstrated by the still increasing numbers of Spitfires and Hurricanes taking to the skies).
    But if we were going to sink scarce lottery money into a historic ship, can I suggest another candidate that might take precedence over the Hermes. How about the WW2 Black Swan class sloop, Whimprel ? Sold to Egypt in the post-war period, and as far as I know, still tied up in Alexandria (as the Tariq).
    As one of Captain Johnnie Walker’s 2nd Support Group, it would be the perfect (and much needed) memorial ship for the Battle of the Atlantic campaign. Several attempts to bring it back to the UK have already floundered due to lack of funds ….. or interest.
    Liverpool (where it was based), or Glasgow (where it was constructed), could be perfect sites for its preservation – and a great tourist attraction for the local economies.

    • Now that i like
      I wasnt around in thoses days but i do know about them
      And if anybody has read The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monserat you will understand why this would be a good project

    • Alan Reid, there are loads of preserved ships around the UK coast. Both RN and Merchant Navy.
      Instead of bleating about it get off your fat backside, get offline and support all the organisations, national and local, preserving our maritime heritage.

    • You mean Whimbrel, which also served in the largest British fleet ever, the British Pacific Fleet. Read about Task Force 57 it is worth it and is almost a forgotten piece of RN and British history.

  6. Seems highly unlikely that that will raise enough money, but it would be great to have a lasting rememorial to the Falklands, which will probably be the UKs last going it alone naval battle.

  7. Can the lottery not fund such a project Hermes scrap value is probably £20-30 million. Surely the lottery could afford to pay the scrap value, bring Hermes back home and find a suitable berth for her in the UK.
    I think she would attract millions of visitors a year.
    We should preserve more of our historic vessels.

    • Didn’t they try and find a viable model for Illustrious, but no one was interested in paying for the restoration work required to make it a viable tourist attraction.

      • On the contrary, there was a very large bid made privately for Illustrious, with a viable joint heritage and business plan that was to be continually financed by entirely private funds, (by someone with very deep pockets). Take it from someone who was involved at the time, it became very apparent that there was never any intention to allow her to be saved from the offset. Something that Hermes has in her favour is that unlike Lusty, she no longer belongs to the MoD, so the powers that be have no say whatsoever as to what happens to her

  8. I hope they manage it. One of the saddest things I have seen from a historical perspective is watching a great warship be sent to be scrapped. In the US at Brownsville I saw the Forrestals and all but 2 of the Kitty Hawks slowly torn apart. Now their dismantling Enterprise CVN-65. So I hope Hermes avoids that fate.

  9. It is a shame that none of the big battleships of the ww1/ww2 era exist anymore.

    I know you have to choose what to preserve for the nation, as it all costs money, but it is a shame so few iconic items of our nations history have been saved.

    • I agree Steve – and the QE class battleship Warspite would have been an excellent choice.
      Veteran of Jutland, Narvik, Cape Matapan – and D-Day etc
      At the war’s end, there were some proposals to save her as a museum ship, but the decision to scrap her was made by an unsentimental Admiralty.
      Means the Brits, who devised the concept, need to go to the United States to see a dreadnought!

      • Probably 3 would stand out. HMS Warspite (as you say), HMS Rodney and HMS King George V (the most successful class of battleships in WW2 in terms of sinking other battleships). There are/were so many though.

    • In America several of the battleships were preserved by donations from school children and special license plates. The wealthier and even some of the poorer States considered it a matter of pride to preserve the BBs bearing their names and the school children were encouraged to think of it as a gift to their fathers and grandfathers.

  10. Great idea about making museums and restaurants out of her
    but l would use the new Elizabeth class ships, they would cost less
    to convert being new and save a fortune for everybody !
    Win win

  11. HMS Hermes an incredible ship, but the one that should have always been preserved was HMS Warspite. What a ship that was. Two world wars, longest ranged Battleship kill ever, and it just gets scrapped and they choose to preserve HMS Belfast of all things.

    • Well, Belfast survived for long enough, and is not a bad choice in herself given she has the North Cape to her name. Warspite would have been preferable, but Belfast was around in the 1970s, while Warspite was sold to the breakers in 1946.

    • Agreed a truly remarkable ship and she had the scars of battle to prove it. Of the other battleships the last of the line Vanguard would have been my other candidate. A beautiful ship and somehow she represented the end of an era in British history when we really had aspirations indeed an expectation to rule the waves.

  12. Unlikely to be viable as a museum ship given her condition and the lack of appropriate home markets for footfall. Bring her back and scuttle her as a diving reef! A piece of British history brought home, serving a new lease of life maintaining our marine ecology and diving skills for future generations

  13. If the campaign to save Hermes is anything like the one to save HMS Plymouth nothing will happen. A disinterested council, petty committee infighting and an indifferent public killed her as if she had been hit by an Exocet. Mind you, that can be said of many a Plymouth project, sadly.

  14. How would you remove the ever-present stench of curry? The cooking grease and ghee probably holds her together and stopped much more rusting to occur.
    Sink her and remember the great ship for what she was and enabled the RN to do.

  15. it seems it’s game over anyway, the donations are still sitting around the 10% of what is needed and they don’t appear to be increasing, and only 2 days to go. I guess it might change if one of the red top papers run with the story and run hard with it.

  16. Bring her to Devonport! Her home for many years, where she left as INS Viraat in 1986 and could berth alongside HMS Courageous (another Falklands era veteran). Plymouth could then rival Portsmouth for a naval attraction, something that has been lacking for many years!

  17. There is public apathy about the current armed forces, let alone the names long gone. I would be happy to see it happen but doubt it will sadly.

  18. I remember her in the grey gloom at a distance loaded with what looked like black helicopters. The sight sent a tremor through me, we were not playing games with Argentina. Invincible was docked at her usual place, and was bereft of flying machines and looked bare and somewhat vulnerable in comparison to Hermes. That Saturday was to be the last before embarking on the journey south, and the air around Portsmouth was electric. Other elements of the fleet were dispersed around the UK and abroad, but would come together on the route to their destiny. Some of which, would never return and remain as graves for too many good men and women. Yes, Hermes should come home as she is possibly the most important post war vessel in the Royal Navy’s modern history.

  19. Well, considering some are even considering a £100million new Royal Yacht, perhaps the two projects could be combined, as any Royal Yacht would only be used on rare occasions. Add to that some duties as a cruise liner for helicopter owning rich dudes, touring the Scottish Islands, Greek Islands, and the off-season travelling musem duties, and multiple funding and multiple revenue streams might just get there!

  20. The alternative of course is hospital ship and relief supplies, sitck in some osmosis water production, and off she goes, using some of the aid budget.

  21. Not sure about Hermes. I would like to see one of the Resolution class ssbn subs saved as a museum. They were our first and served throughout the cold war. I think people would find visiting a Submarine more attractive than a Carrier. Of course I would expect the reactor to be made safe and removed. It would be better if put in dry dock unless leaving in salt water would preserve the hull. Or put Hermes and Polaris Sub in museums.

  22. Served twice on the Happy H , totaling around 5 years , many happy memories. It would be nice to see her come home, but I have read there is competition, the Indians are also looking at keeping her as a museum.
    Referring to donations , I don’t think it has been published very well , on how to contribute. plenty e-mails mentioning it but no instructions, unless I’m missing the plot.
    I have thought about getting involved , if I could but I think will leave it to the others.
    Good luck Mac-Mo’s ice cream parlor.

  23. It’s amazing isn’t it….. Andy comes up with this fantastic idea and every “johnny come lately” tries to steal the idea and suggest another ship!
    The Hermes is more than just another ship, she is, even today an amazing aircraft carrier with a fantastic history (both U.K. and India), and I for one whole heartedly support Andy in this mission.
    Get over it Jack, and support the cause!

  24. The Black Swan Class Sloop HMS Whimbrel in Egypt, if still in reasonable condition, is now the most historic choice for a preserved ex RN ship from WWII. The Battle of the Atlantic has no significant memorial in the UK, it has been said many times that Liverpool is the logical port for such a ship. HQ Western approaches was moved to that city into an underground bunker that is still there as a museum, U534 is at Birkenhead a ferry ride from Pier Head which is a short walk to Canning Dock where Whimbrel was supposed to have been preserved in 2004 or 2008 or 2014. In fact it was in 1993 that Whimbrel was noted as being an ideal representative of the convoy escorts that could be brought back to the UK. Canada has HMCS Sackville, a corvette that is their Battle of the Atlantic memorial ship on their side of ‘The Pond’ in Halifax Nova Scotia. She was preserved from 1985. HMS Hermes would be wonderful, but her berth & funding would need to be absolutely at a high level, She displaces at least 23,000 tons – up to 28,000 fully loaded. Whimbrel is 1600 tons nominally and should be more manageable financially. If you look how successfully HMS Caroline in Belfast has been transformed into a memorial ship from WWI commemorating Jutland and Irish sailors in the RN, the potential for historic ships in other parts of the UK where there are many visitors is just there for the asking. Our Islands have centuries of Maritime Heritage in peace and war, we should celebrate that history a little more where these opportunities arise.

  25. In 1980 the HMS Hermes was doing a port call in Pensacola, Florida when I went aboard her to check out what the Brits had as far as carriers. The first and most striking thing was the flight deck ad how it curved up on the bow. I have served on two US Carriers, the Independence and America and this was the darndest thing I had ever seen. What really impressed me the most was the bar that was aboard that served your sailors booze at its best. Now that is something I wished the US Navy had incorporated from the British. =) She was a great looking ship and I know she was respected by her sailors who served with honor aboard her. Rest well after a much long service.

  26. Is HMS Whimbrel still extant ? In June 2014 she was days away from being scrapped according to the ‘ Telegraph ‘ article. There is a glaring need for a national memorial to the Battle of the Atlantic – without doubt the nation’s greatest maritime campaign – and work is still in progress under the working title ‘ The Earthwaves Project ‘ to create a memorial which is both affordable and enduring.

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