RPS’ Maritime team has been instrumental in the successful renovation of HMS Caroline, the only WW1 Battle of Jutland ship still afloat and the Battle’s last remaining survivor. The C-class light cruiser was launched in September 1914 and saw action in the infamous Battle of Jutland on May 31 1916 in which more than 7,000 lives were lost. She was the focus of international commemorations of the battle on May 31 last year. During WWII she served first as a depot ship for anti-submarine patrol vessels then a key strategic operations base for Destroyers and Corvettes protecting convoys in the North Atlantic. When she was decommissioned in 2011 she was the second-oldest ship in Royal Navy service.
RPS engineers developed a highly complex permanent mooring system in Belfast’s Alexandra Dock to make the 4,000 tonne ship safe for the public and to protect her from lateral movements as she floats on the rising and falling tides. The historic fabric of Alexandra Dock in which the ship is moored is a scheduled ancient monument and the complications of attaching an equally important and iconic vessel required RPS engineers to undertake a very sensitive approach to the design. The historic nature of the dock structure, combined with the poor ground conditions surrounding the dock, required the installation of a piled foundation structure. This foundation system extends 30m below the surface and utilises ground anchors 35m long to provide lateral restraint to the ‘A’ frames on the dockside.
Captain John Rees, OBE, Chief of Staff at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, in charge of the restoration and project work commented in May “We are very much looking forward to the reopening of HMS Caroline, particularly as it will now be entirely visitor safe and boast one of the most advanced mooring systems ever seen on the island of Ireland and possibly in the world.”
The ship has been secured in the dock using two articulated steel ‘A’ frames. These allow the ship to rise and fall with the tides while preventing excessive lateral movement which could restrict public access to the ship. The attachment of the ‘A’ frames to the ship required careful consideration to ensure that the loads generated by wind and wave action were transferred through strong points in the vessel thereby avoiding damage to the historically significant ship.
The ship which is considered to stand shoulder to shoulder with other world-famous historically significant ships including Lord Nelson’s Victory and Henry VIII’s Mary Rose, is now open to the public providing a five star tourist attraction.