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.”