Written by Bill Sainsbury on Friday, 13 December 2013. Posted in Blog
A 400m scarf has been wrapped around the conning tower of HMS Alliance, the historic WW2 era submarine at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport. The giant scarf is the result of a community project which has involved over 200 local knitters, knitting 1337 squares to make a scarf alleged to keep the historic submarine warm over the winter.
Gareth Brettell, Education Manager at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said,
“We are very grateful and totally amazed with results from our local knitters. Knitting has a long tradition in the Royal Navy, from the much loved woolly submarine jumpers to mending clothing while at sea. This community project has been a perfect way to develop interest in HMS Alliance”
Over 40 local community groups from the Women’s Institute, local churches, sheltered housing schemes and social knitting groups have taken part in the project to make the giant scarf. There have also been a number of individual knitting enthusiasts who contributed by knitting at home, with one lady knitting a section of scarf 200 metres long! Each knitter has knitted at least one square and the squares have been sewn together into sections and then joined together by volunteers at the Submarine Museum. Staff from the Submarine Museum have also visited the groups and given talks and shared submarine artefacts.
There have been an incredible 1337 squares knitted in total. The squares are all possible colours and some of the squares have patterns on them inspired by the artefacts such as the Jolly Rogers that submarines have long been associated with. One of the squares even has the words “HMS Alliance” knitted on it in Morse code.
The giant scarf has also spawned some smaller scarves which will be wrapped around the other submarines at the Museum, including Holland 1, the Royal Navy’s very first submarine launch in 1901. A celebration event to thank all the knitters was held at the Submarine Museum. The scarf will be displayed for a few days, weather permitting. In the New Year it will displayed in the Learning Centre at the Submarine Museum.
Also, this month has been very exciting for the curatorial department as we have being doing some trials onboard the submarine to see how our new displays will work for the completed new interpretation of Alliance ready for patrol which will open next Easter.
The new interpretation onboard will see every compartment filled with objects, sounds and reanimated equipment to make the boat come to life giving the impression that the crew have just stepped off for a few minutes. Over the past year and a half we have been interviewing veteran submariners and looking at historical photographs to make sure that we get every detail right. A lot of time has been spent on EBay collecting objects and visiting our friends at Sabre Sales in Southsea.
We have also been testing our new audio guide for visitors who want to explore the submarine in their own time. We trialled this over the half term along with our new soundscape and so far the feedback has been really positive.
The final fit out will take place once the internal conservation has been completed in January.
An idea of how the galley on HMS Alliance will look with new interpretation. Lovely pot mess!
Continue Reading to see Enid Fletcher, one of the knitters, taking about this community project
on Friday, 25 October 2013. Posted in Blog
Much of the internal conservation of Alliance is about cleaning, polishing and sealing. However this is being done in an extremely thorough way. In many cases components are removed and conserved in the workshop before being refitted on the boat.
As is always the case on submarines many areas that require attention are tight and difficult spaces in which to work. The image on the right showes George in the forward torpedo space.
This week HMS Alliance has become the first accessible submarine in the world. As part of the £7m conservation project to restore HMS Alliance back to her former glory, a lift has been installed to assist people with mobility difficulties to go onboard the historic submarine.
Chris Munns, Director at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said, “The lift can transport one person in a wheelchair safely into the after-end of HMS Alliance. From that compartment they have an excellent view through the submarine engine room towards the control room. ”“It is really marvellous to be able to offer this service to our visitors and we are all very honoured at being the first submarine that can do so!
Members of the Gosport Access & Inclusion Groups visited the RN Submarine Museum on Wednesday 23 October to test the new lift and experience going onboard HMS Alliance for the first time. They were met by a submariner who told them about the submarine and shared some of his personnel stories of life onboard.
Continue Reading to see Terry Rhodes taking about her first visit to HMS Alliance and the possibilities for people with disabilities
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Thursday, 05 September 2013. Posted in Blog
Over the summer HMS Alliance has basked in the sunshine and welcomed thousands of visitors. However now that we are all “back to school”, work has begun in earnest on the final phase of the Alliance Conservation project. Contractors ML are completing the surface of the cofferdam and have built a fantastic decked walkway under the bow. This landscaping really brings a new perspective to Alliance as she now seems to loom larger because of the striking contrast of her glossy paintwork against her surroundings.
Work has also started again on the internal conservation. The messes are nearly complete however there is still loads to do in the other areas. It is really amazing that by cleaning and polishing every square inch of the interior so much more detail of the multitude of fittings and fixtures is revealed. Alliance is really coming back to life before our very eyes!
Continue Reading to watch our youtube clip with Ian Clark, our restoration expert speaking about the internal conservation of HMS Alliance.
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in Blog
With the grey anti corrosion undercoat complete Alliance was ready for the final coat in black. The black paint had to be done non-stop without a break in order that the paint dried with an even finish all over. The scaffolding that has shrouded the boat for the past nine months is now slowly being dismantled but there remains a lot of finishing off work to the cofferdam while inside the boat work will carry on until February 2014.
BFBS News Coverage
Royal Navy Submarine Museum - HMS Alliance restoration under way
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Monday, 22 April 2013. Posted in Blog
The rebuild process is well under way and our Project Manager Jason is delighted by the quality of the steelwork restoration. Twenty sections of aluminium casing along the top of the submarine are currently being reinstalled ready for the final repainting of the entire submarine in the next few weeks. It promises to be quite a sight for visitors when the covers come down at the end of June.
We have now started the painstaking conservation of the internal areas through a detailed programme of corrosion treatment, deep-clean, repair and refurbishment. This work will run through until early 2014. The biggest challenge is undertaking the work whilst maintaining public access to the submarine. On the plus side, it’s clearly something very different for visitors to see and there is plenty of questions and interest being shown.
The photos are showing progress this month as the rebuild is under way with the casing going back on and spraying of the internal tanks well progressed.
BBC News Coverage
Royal Navy Submarine HMS Alliance restoration under way
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Thursday, 28 February 2013. Posted in Blog
The picture says it all the really – the bow is nearing completion and we are very pleased with the standard of work – it’s a work of art or more aptly put great craftsmanship!
The following picture illustrates a number of things. To the left in the background you can see the extensive amount of plate that has had to be renewed at the base of the fin in order to support it and the CO’s cabin. In the foreground are main vent valves from two of the main ballast tanks that have been removed for refurbishment. To the right is the gun tower which is under- going extensive repair.
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Friday, 04 January 2013. Posted in Blog
In December blasting the interior of the fin was finally completed. It took a lot longer than had been anticipated. Now that we can get inside you see why it took so long; it has a complex internal support structure combined with all the masts rising up through it. At the base is the CO’s cabin which uniquely to A-boats was a barrel like cylinder welded on top of the main pressure hull.
The contractors have had to cut three temporary holes in the side of the fin so that work can be carried out inside. In the picture you can see the upper hatch tower that leads down to the cabin and the control room; behind it you can see the shiny post blasted aluminium plate of the inside of the fin.
Unfortunately there’s not much left of the steel supports that hold the cabin in place so it going to be the subject of a lot of welding. The problem with welding onto the cabin is that like the rest of the pressure hull although it is very think plate the heat from the welding rapidly starts to burn anything flammable on the inside starting with the paint. Inside the cabin the joiner Gavin has been tasked with carefully removing the bunk and other timber fittings prior to the welding starting. With all the banging and grinding to the outside of the cabin going on this has been a memorable if not entirely pleasant task!
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Monday, 05 November 2012. Posted in Blog
Saving HMS Alliance conservation continues. With the amidships area and the fin out of bounds due to the grit blasting much of the action is centred on the bow. The first photo shows the top section of the steel brace that has been constructed to support the bow. We didn’t want it falling off before have had chance to survey it! This upper section of the bow is the best preserved and some of it can be retained. The second photo show the dramatic wasting that has occurred to the scantlings lower down. The contractors are in the process of measuring the surviving structure so that it can be accurately rebuilt out of new steel. At the centre of the picture is the now exposed lower starboard torpedo tube. All forward bow tube doors have been carefully removed. Though structurally sound, the inside of the tubes are a bit of a mess. The guys on the job are drawing straws for who goes up them to clean them out.
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Thursday, 18 October 2012. Posted in Blog
The future is orange but not for very long! Now that most of Alliance has been blasted back to bare metal the predominant colour is orange as the steel quickly oxidises. However the blasting contractors are quickly following up their work with high pressure water and grit with a holding coat of red primer. The first image shows how dramatic a change the blasting can bring, this is the forward tip of the ballast keel showing the original asdic transducer housed behind the grills – this was an area where we feared the corrosion would be very bad but as has often been the case with the blasting Alliance is in better shape than we expected.
Something no-one on the project anticipated was the sheer quantity of pig iron ballast that was installed in the keel and in the bottom the ballast tanks. The ballast is predominantly made up of hundreds of “Toblerone” shaped iron blocks which were carefully placed in interlocking forms inside the tanks and then strapped in place with strips of steel. They all have to come out if we are to preserve the spaces they occupy. Given that they are all fused together this has to be done with a jack hammer. It’s the short straw job on every shift for the guys working on the boat! We don’t intend to put any of it back so if anyone has any clever ideas about what to do with 50 tons of iron Toblerones let know!
Written by Bill Sainsbury on Monday, 24 September 2012. Posted in Blog
The stern section of the “A” class boats was affectionately known as the Duck’s Arse. There was not a lot left of Alliance’s arse so it has been carefully rebuilt using the old section as a template. Creating the multiple curves has not been easy. The contractors were worried about the bow but after the stern they think it will be far easier! We think they have done a superb job.
Most the of the vessel has now been blasted back to remove many layers of paint and rust. In the thinnest and most corroded areas the blasting guns have frequently blow clean through the weakened plate. One area we were concerned about was the gun tower just forward of the fin which appeared to be in a particularly poor state. However in the event it survived the UHP with no holes. In the picture you can see the gleaming aluminium shell plate of the fin which has also been blasted back. So it’s goodbye to a dozen different type of lichen that had covered the portside of the structure.
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