HMS Fearless may return to Harland and Wolff.

Charlie Warmington
15th September 2005, 10:41
HMS Fearless may return to Harland and Wolff.
By Charlie Warmington in Belfast.

It is profoundly depressing that centuries of Belfast’s unique maritime heritage go unnoticed at home while the rest of the world clamours for it. Other countries showcase their homegrown history - we exile ours! There are dozens of Titanic museums all over America; the Nomadic is in Paris and the innovative iron steamship Mullogh launched on the Lagan in 1855 is in New Zealand. The Duke of Lancaster is in Liverpool, HMS Belfast is one of London’s top tourist attractions, and it has just emerged that there are plans for another famous Belfast built vessel to join her on the Thames – HMS Fearless. Interpub, a business venture specialising in quality restaurants and accommodation is interested in acquiring the Fearless as a riverside hostel. Their Managing Director, Keith Knowles told me “We’d love to get her refitted in Harland and Wolff.” The project will cost £10 million, but Mr Knowles and his team are full of enthusiasm. “We want to keep the integrity of the Fearless,” he said, “Our plans are to renovate and reuse the 750 berths for tourists, to reinstate the chapel, and perhaps use her officer’s quarters as bridal suites.” Colin Waite, a former Royal Marine who served on her for three years is focussed on saving the Fearless from being broken up; he’s been running a campaign to keep her from the breaker’s yard. “She was the oldest ship sailing in the navy before being decommissioned three years ago,” Colin told me. “The news that she might be saved is a glimmer of good hope.” Launched on the 19th December 1963, Fearless was an 11,000-ton commando assault ship crammed with state of the art technology and innovative design features; she’s now awaiting news of her fate in Portsmouth. When Fearless was built her radio equipment was so advanced that the handbooks hadn’t been written when she put to sea. She was commissioned in 1964 and immediately embarked on an action packed career that Colin Waite described as “historically world renowned.” During the Cold War she was tasked with supporting NATO’s northern flank off Norway in the event of war with the Soviet Union. In her heyday Fearless was one of the navy’s most versatile vessels, an invaluable and very substantial part of the service’s amphibious warfare assets. She housed four 115-ton landing craft in her “dock” – and four 10 ton craft were slung from her davits. There was room on board for a flight of Sea King helicopters, and Sea Harrier aircraft operated from her flight deck. As well as tanks and military vehicles, HMS Fearless had a crew of about 550, an air group of 22 and 88 Royal Marines; under “normal” conditions she could deliver up to 400 troops to a war zone; in emergency almost 1,000 could squeeze on board. Her first voyage into the annals of front-line history involved landing Irish Guards and RAF helicopters into the Aden conflict in 1966; the Task Group commander’s flag flew proudly on her mast as she co-ordinated counter terrorist operations from a fleet of twenty five ships. In 1968 she was the chosen venue for talks between Prime Minister Harold Wilson and the Rhodesian government off Gibraltar. In 1971 she played a major role in the East Pakistan flood relief operations, and five years later had a role in the tenth James Bond film – in the final scenes and credits of “The Spy Who Loved Me”! During filming she was diverted to rescue a Greek cargo vessel that had gone on fire. War strategists compliment Fearless and her sister ship HMS Intrepid with the success of the Falkland Islands campaign in 1982. Fearless was the command ship that led the way into San Carlos Water. Gordon Smith’s authoritative diary of the campaign records a note dated June the 5th – “With Second Para so far forward, and lacking helicopter lift, General Moore decides to risk the assault ships on night runs from San Carlos Water with the two Guards units. Tonight it is the turn of "Fearless" to bring round the First Welsh.” One of her heavy landing craft was attacked by four Skyhawks in Choiseul Sound; six crew died, and Sea Harriers shot down three of the enemy marauders. Later, as the newly appointed Commander of land forces, Major General Moore used Fearless as his headquarters; Admiral Sandy Woodward composed his successful strategies on board, and the initial surrender negotiations were conducted with General Menendez in the Commodore’s cabins. “She’s a prestige ship,” said Colin Waite, “with such an eventful history. Fearless must be saved.” And if she spends her retirement at a distant mooring being appreciated by people from all over the world it’ll not be the first time Belfast’s maritime history will be widely available; except of course in Belfast.
Full details of the Save the HMS Fearless campaign are on www.hmsfearless.co.uk

cockerhoop
15th September 2005, 12:52
Yes it would be a lovely idea to save Fearless, and there is more time to get a financial package together, than with the Canberra saving scheme.
But the problems of preserving these expensive vessels are vast, here at Barrow recently a submarine heritage group campaigned and seaved money to buy and exhibit a Canadian Oberon class vessel, but they could not raise the money to even transport the boat across the Atlantic, and the idea has gone.
I wish the Fearless society well with their plans!

Paul UK
15th September 2005, 20:08
Acording to ships monthly they are trying to take Fearless to the Thames.

Paul

Bob S
16th September 2005, 16:33
As a 700 bed hostel with restaurants, fast food outlets & bars.

boulton
31st October 2007, 20:48
You may wish to see a new thread started 31 October 2007 "HMS Fearless to go to the breaker's yard"

HarbourCam
2nd November 2007, 20:01
I believe the idea by Interpub has been dropped due to the Port of London authority refusing to allow her to be berthed on the Thames. Nice idea, shame it's not going to happen.

Mervyn Pritchard
26th February 2008, 02:12
Just seen this thread started by Charlie. Was just thinking about how fitting it would be for her to return to the city of her birth as a museum, the land sea aire exhibit idea certainly had a lot of potential i felt. Then i found this...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_7150000/newsid_7150200/7150282.stm?bw=nb&mp=rm&news=1&nol_storyid=7150282&bbcws=1

Hhmmm... dissapointing.

- Merv.