A bronze monument is to be unveiled at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth on the 25th of March 2020 to celebrate the heritage of HMS VERNON and those involved in mine warfare, diving, bomb and mine disposal.

A monument in the form of a bronze statue will be unveiled at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth on Wednesday the 25th of March 2020 to celebrate the naval and military heritage of HMS VERNON, which previously occupied the site, and honour those involved in mine warfare, diving and bomb & mine disposal – past, present and future.  It is hoped that the unveiling will be conducted by a VVIP.

According to Project Vernon, over £250,000 has been raised so far by a team of unpaid volunteers to fund the one-and-a-quarter life size monument, created by sculptor Mark Richards FRSS.  It will stand proud of one of the pools in Gunwharf Quays where its reflection will enhance its appearance to the annual footfall of 8 million.

“HMS VERNON started life in 1876 as a training establishment accommodated on board ships afloat in Portsmouth Harbour.  In 1923, it moved ashore to the site that is now Gunwharf Quays and became a centre for training and trials of many forms of undersea warfare including mine warfare and diving.  It closed in 1986 and the monument of a contact sea mine and two divers commemorates that part of naval history.

During both world wars, Britain’s Armed Forces were heavily involved in locating the enemy’s mines, unexploded bombs and other explosive ordnance which, for the Royal Navy, involved dangerous operations both under the sea and on land.  Throughout the Second World War the use of sea mines increased dramatically, and scores of ships and submarines were sunk or damaged by them.  Converted trawlers were pressed into service as minesweepers but for mines dropped by aircraft onto shoals and mudbanks the clearance tasks fell to personnel from HMS VERNON.

In the hours before and during D-Day, Allied minesweepers operated off the coast of occupied France.  In addition, 120 Royal Navy divers, including Reservists and Royal Marines, cleared 2,500 mines and other obstructions from the approaches to the Normandy beaches.  This dangerous work, which was carried out under fire, significantly reduced the risks to Allied soldiers and sailors and was continued later to make the harbours of Europe safe.”

The important work of Royal Navy mine warfare and diving units has continued to this day in both peace and during the conflicts in the Falklands, Middle East, Afghanistan and Libya.  Much closer to home, whilst preparing Portsmouth Harbour for use by the aircraft carriers HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS PRINCE OF WALES, these Royal Navy specialists removed some 46 tonnes of explosive ordnance from the seabed within sight of Gunwharf Quays and this monument.

PROJECT VERNON, initiated in April 2008, is the campaign to erect a monument at Gunwharf Quays (the marina, retail centre and residential development in Portsmouth) to celebrate the naval and military heritage of HMS VERNON which occupied the site in one form or another from October 1923, when it moved ashore from hulks, until its closure in April 1996.  Gunwharf Quays has an annual footfall of 8 million and is home to the iconic Spinnaker Tower.

Project Vernon has a website at www.vernon-monument.org and a Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/vernonmonument.

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What an incredible piece of sculpture, and very fitting to those brave people.


i dont think the RN possess any mines or a mine laying capability. last i knew was HMS Abdiel a fast mine layer of 1940s vintage, but she managed well over 40kts. I think theres still a place for them, possibly air launched.


Can’t the P8 when in service deploy mines, I’m sure they can, no5 sure if RN will get that capability though.


Damit! EDIT: RAF not RN


Its not the capability CAM, its the fact that i dont think we have mines in our inventory, we were developing a sea mine in the early 70s,but i dont know what happened to it. Stonefish i think it was.

Bloke down the pub

Isn’t the unveiling due next year, in which case the title is a bit misleading?

Barry Larking

Mark Richards has done a very fine sculpture that is both inspirational and respectful to a great many brave people.

David Sandiford

The monument was installed in the middle one of the three pools in Gunwharf Quays on 17 March 2020. The trustees decided that the coronavirus precautions would be tightened well before the planned event on 25 March. There was no point in leaving the monument covered, probably for months. We made the decision to go ahead, albeit with a scaled down version, with an unveiling ceremony with very few in the audience, but for it to be filmed and “live screened” to Facebook. This was to take place immediately after installation – if it went quickly enough for tha water… Read more »