News Archive

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News archive 

Giant courgette submarine 

Issued September 2013

September 2013 - compressedImage shown: Veteran submariner Andy Norris proudly shows off the giant courgette submarine at the Submarine Museum

Keen gardener and conservation volunteer at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport found a giant courgette in his vegetable patch. Inspired by his work onboard HMS Alliance, the only surviving WW2era ocean going British submarine in the world, he created a vegetable submarine.

Eric Rayment, Gardener said “ HMS Courgette is a vegetable class submarine. Her patrol success as detailed on the Jolly Roger flag shows 3 Attack Carrots, 11 Merchant Peas and 1 Anti Submarine Tomato

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum and HMS Alliance, in Gosport, Hampshire are open everyday to visitors. The giant courgette submarine will be on display in the Learning Centre at the Museum.

Click here to hear the latest news about HMS Alliance conservation project.

First sight of restored WW2 submarine revealed 

Issued July 2013

Image shown: HMS Alliance being revealed by ML
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The first sight of the restoration work to save HMS Alliance, the only British submarine survivor from the WW2 era and Cold War, was finally revealed on Friday 5 July. After decades of exposure to sea water and dampness that has caused severe corrosion, HMS Alliance, the centrepiece attraction at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire enters the final phase of a £7m conservation project to restore her back to her former glory. The first full sight of the restored exterior was viewed by Museum staff, volunteers and former crew.

Chris Munns, Director of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said, “This is an exciting milestone in our conservation project to restore HMS Alliance for future generations. It was the first glimpse that submariners and our visitors have had to view the restoration work of the entire exterior of this fascinating submarine that is a major part of our maritime heritage and the memorial to the bravery and sacrifice of the 5300 British submariners who have died in service”

The completion of the restoration to the exterior of HMS Alliance also marks the completion of the second phase of the overall Alliance Conservation Project. The first phase which completed last summer was the construction of a cofferdam around the base of the submarine to ensure easy access for regular maintenance. The final phase of works will start this autumn and will focus on internal conservation, new interpretation, state of the art lighting and soundscapes to bring the submarine to life.

The Alliance Conservation Project will be fully completed ready for the historic submarine to be relaunched next Spring in 2014. Visitors to the Submarine Museum will be able to visit HMS Alliance throughout the summer holidays and during the internal restoration works. 

Second stage of Saving HMS Alliance starts

Issued June 2012Stern view cofferdam and scaffolding comp

Image shown: Stern end of HMS Alliance with new cofferdam and scaffolding for vital conservation of her casing 

The commencement of the second stage of the £6.75m conservation project to Save HMS Alliance has begun.

Jason Lowe, Project Manager of the Saving HMS Alliance project said, “We are delighted with how the project is progressing. The first stage of building the coffer dam around HMS Alliance is near completion, so the second stage of conserving her body work can start in earnest”

The £6.75m conservation project to restore HMS Alliance is starting the second phase of conservation project. The first phase works which is near completion will provide access for low cost maintenance. Land underneath the submarine has been reclaimed and a cofferdam has been built to create a new, dry hard standing will allow access to the whole vessel for routine exterior maintenance and in the future  give visitors the opportunity to view the underside of the hull.

The second phase which will start in June will involve stripping off Alliance’s body work to restore her to pristine condition as close as possible to when she served during active service. As much as possible of the original fabric of the boat will be preserved and like-for-like features and materials will be used.

The Submarine Museum will remain open everyday throughout the summer. Visitors can still go onboard HMS Alliance with a submariner guide and see Holland 1, the Royal Navy’s first submarine.

New Horrible Science exhibition opens

Issued March 2012

This Easter, families can find out just how smelly submariners were, the ghastly food they ate and how sub loos could turn into poo fountains at the brand new family exhibition Horrible Science of Submarines at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire.   Written by the author of the Horrible Science books, Nick Arnold and illustrated by Tony De Saulles, extra family activities are planned for the school holidays.  On Thursday 5 April, families can meet the Pesky Pets, Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 April get stuck into a Beastly Bug Trail and on Thursday 12 April, take part in the Dastardly Dive ShowSubmarine Nick  Tony compressesd

Pets were banned on submarines but that didn’t stop some uninvited guests finding their way on board.  At the Pesky Pets event on Thursday 5 April, families can meet rats, cockroaches, the giant millipede, a giant snail and a bearded dragon up close. Underwater creatures from Blue Reef Aquarium will also be showing off their most horrible habits!   On Thursday 12 April, visitors of all ages can watch the Dastardly Dive Science Show with big bangs expert James Soper. He will demonstrate the extreme pressures submarines experience underwater by using eggs, balloons, spud guns and explosives! 

Nick Arnold, author of the Horrible Science books said, “This exhibition and Horrible Science flow together like submarines and seawater.  The gory details took us to new depths and we loved every minute of it!

Tony De Saulles, Illustrator of the Horrible Science books said, “What a fantastic project this was to work on.  It was fascinating to chat to retired submariners about life on board HMS Alliance and then translate their tales into cartoon strips.”

This new funny family exhibition from creators of Horrible Science is part of the Saving HMS Alliance community project to bring new audiences to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. The Horrible Science series is published by Scholastic Children’s Books and has sold more than 5 million books in the UK since it was launched in 1996.

This funny family exhibition is split into 5 themes, food, filth, pesky pets, scary dives and stinky submarines. Each theme will explore the horrible and scary slide of submarine life with a new Horrible Science character, young submariner Sammy Sardine, created by Tony De Saulles.

Bob Mealings, Curator at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, said “It has been a real pleasure to work with Nick Arnold and Tony De Saulles.  We are very proud of our new Horrible Science exhibition.  I know it will entertain by showing the funny and horrible side of submarine life.”

The exhibition and family are free with a valid museum ticket. The exhibition is open everyday and will run throughout the year.

£3.4million lottery win to save HMS Alliance

Issued May 2011

This Bank Holiday sees a fantastic lottery boost for staff and volunteers at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum after they scooped a £3.4million confirmed award* from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to help save HMS Alliance, the only surviving WW2 era submarine that is the memorial to 5,300 British Submariners.  Appeal_Brochure_032

Stuart McLeod, Head of HLF South East, said:

“This Heritage Lottery Fund investment will help transform this unique heritage treasure meaning it will still be around for years to come. However, as we approach Volunteers Week at the beginning of June, it’s important to remember that in addition to much needed funds it is also the vital contribution that volunteers make to both heritage and the wider economy that keeps special assets like HMS Alliance alive.”

HMS Alliance is listed in the UK’s historic ship’s register, sitting alongside the Cutty Sark, the Mary Rose, and HMS Victory in the Core Collection list, and she is the only remaining WW II submarine in the UK that is open to the public. Designed during the war for service in the Middle East, she was launched in 1945, as victory was achieved. She then began a distinguished 28 year career until she retired as the centrepiece of the Submarine Museum.

The project is the First Sea Lord’s top naval heritage priority, and for good reason. Exposed to sea water over cradles by the Museum quayside, the outer structure of HMS Alliance has corroded so badly that parts are literally in danger of falling into the sea below in a rusting process that has proved hard to arrest due to difficulties of access.

As well as the physical conservation, at the heart of the project is a new education programme and dynamic interpretation scheme which will bring Alliance ‘back to life’ for all visitors. Improvements will include dressing the accommodation spaces to reflect the decades of Alliance’s service from the 1940’s through to the 1970’s with interactive soundscapes that reflect how the submarine looked and felt whilst on operation. The Museum will also be taking the project to the local community with an outreach programme featuring a range of fun and engaging events. It is hoped that volunteers will play an important role in all these activities as the project aims to clock up to 2,500 hours of volunteer time over its life span.

Bob Mealings, Acting Director at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, said:

“It comes as a great relief that our ambitious plans to restore and conserve HMS Alliance has been seen as worthwhile by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We are extremely grateful to all our staff, volunteers and supporters across the country that are working so hard to raise the money that we need. This grant is a massive boost and will mean that we can start work very soon.”

Vice Admiral Sir Tim McClement, Chairman of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, said today:

“As the memorial to all the submariners who have fought and died in service, it is so important that she is saved and brought to life for future generations to have the opportunity to understand and learn about “the silent service” that has been in operation for over 100 years protecting our nation.”

HRH Prince William of Wales is the Royal Patron of the HMS Alliance Appeal that aims to raise the £6.5 million that the conservation work is budgeted to cost. Over £5.8 million in funds and pledges has now been raised, including the £3.4 million award by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A further £1.5 million is required for a new Alliance gallery.

Fundraising still continues at the Submarine Museum which is open every day. For more information on HMS Alliance and how people can get involved, contact the HMS Alliance Appeal Office on 023 9251 0354 ext 244.

First Royal Navy submarine gets top award

Issued May 2011

Sub originally deemed ‘underhand, unfair and damned un-English’ joins the ranks of UK’s engineering greats.

Holland 1, the first operational Royal Navy submarine, has just received a prestigious Engineering Heritage Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. IME_Heritage_Award_4may11_Tim_McClement__Isobel_Pollock_infront_Holland

The submarine joined the world’s first rail locomotive, the Thames Barrier and Bletchley Park’s Bombe code-breaking machine on the list of award winners, which celebrates Britain’s greatest engineering feats.

Isobel Pollock, Deputy President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and Chair of the Heritage Committee, said:

“Holland 1’s remarkable story can easily overshadow the fact that this was the vessel that dragged the Royal Navy into the modern era.

“With this award we want to not only recognise Holland 1’s pivotal role in changing naval warfare forever, but also pay tribute to the tremendous restoration job that has saved this crucial part of British heritage for future generations.”

Launched in 1901, Holland 1 was commissioned despite the Royal Navy’s traditional mistrust of submarine warfare. Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, then Controller of the Navy, described it as “underhand, unfair and damned un-English”.

However in 1900 the Royal Navy secretly placed an order with submarine pioneer John Philip Holland. Ironically, Holland had originally received the financial backing needed to develop his submarines from the Irish Fenian Society, who wanted to use the vessels to carry out hit and run terrorist attacks on the Royal Navy. 

Holland’s great technological innovation was marrying the internal combustion engine with the electric motor and electric battery, all in one hydro-dynamic machine. This would set the standard for submarines across the world for decades to come.01_-_1901_-_Holland_1

After Holland 1’s secret launch a year later, the boat had 12 years of experimental service before being decommissioned in 1913. However while being towed to the scrap yard it hit stormy weather and sank.

It remained at the bottom of the Channel for 68 years before the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, working with Navy mine sweepers, discovered and salvaged the wreck in 1981.

Vice Admiral Sir Tim McClement, chairman of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said:

“We are delighted to receive this prestigious award in recognition of the challenges that were faced by the very first Royal Navy submariners in Holland 1 and later by the heritage team which rescued and preserved her for posterity here at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.”

Holland 1 is now on permanent public display at the Submarine Museum, keeping this vital piece of Britain’s engineering and military heritage alive for future generations.

Submarine Museum Merges with National Museum

Issued January 2011

The Trustees of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, in Gosport, Hampshire have announced that they have unanimously accepted the proposed Articles presented by the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Incorporation in to the National Museum will become effective by 1stApril 2011.

These articles will be the basis of the formation of a new charitable company for the Submarine Museum. The new company will have the National Museum as its majority shareholder or member.

Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, chairman of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said,

“This is excellent news for both the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Submarine Museum”

Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott, Chairman of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said,

“Our trustees are clear that this is the right way ahead and we look forward to playing a full part in the future of the National Museum”

The National Museum of the Royal Navy was launched in 2009 and draws together the different strands of naval heritage: the Royal Naval Museum, the Royal Marines Museum, the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton and the visitor operations of HMS Victory.  The organisation aims to be the world’s most respected Naval museum, to promote public understanding of the Royal Navy and its constituent branches, past, present and future and to be a beacon of excellence in enabling people to learn, enjoy and engage with the story of the service.  

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum was set up in 1982 as the "submarine memorial complex" dedicated to tell the story of the submarine, the men who serve in them and the 5,300 British submariners who gave their lives in war and peacetime. Among the museum’s world class collection of artefacts, models, equipment, medals, works of art, archives and photographs, the vessels on display include HMS X24, the only surviving WW2 midget submarine, Holland 1 (1901), the Navy’s first submarine and HMS Alliance, the historic WW2 A Class submarine. Both Holland 1 and HMS Alliance are the only submarines on the UK’s Core collection list of historic ships alongside the Cutty Sark, HMS Victory and the Mary Rose.

RN Submarine Museum Unveils Plans to Restore HMS Alliance

 Issued July 2010

Ambitious plans to restore and conserve the iconic World War II era submarine HMS Alliance have been announced by the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, in Gosport, Hampshire where the vessel has been on display to the public since 1982.

With royal approval from patron HRH Prince William, the Saving HMS Alliance Appeal which will raise the funds required for the Alliance Conservation Project was launched with a World War 2 flypast from the RN Historic Flight and a display of red flares that showed that HMS Alliance is in distress and needs urgent help. The crew of the Navy’s newest submarine HMS Ambush mixed with the Rear Admiral Submarines, Mark Anderson, former Commanding Officers and crew of HMS Allianceand World War 2 veteran submariner Captain “Tubby” Crawford.

The Alliance Conservation project is the First Sea Lord’s top naval heritage priority. Exposed to sea water over cradles by the Museum quayside, her outer structure has corroded so badly that parts are literally in danger of falling into the sea below, a rusting process that has proved hard to arrest due to difficulties of access. 

Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott, Chairman of the RN Submarine Museum said, “HMS ALLIANCE requires urgent action to conserve her for future generations and it would be tragic if this historic submarine was not saved for the nation as a symbol of the heroism of all those who were lost and served in submarines in both World Wars."

HRH Prince William, patron of the HMS Alliance Appeal said, “I find the Submarine Museum’s ambitious plans for this famous warship truly heartening and inspiring.  The programme of conservation that the Appeal will enable assures HMS Alliance’s future, promising to bring the peerless story of Britain’s submariners, past and present, to fresh audiences over the years ahead. It will remind us all of the debt we owe to the brave men and women who serve in our submarines.”

Rear Admiral Mark Anderson, Rear Admiral Submarines said, “Submariners have always been known for their comradeship, bravery, competence, endurance and of course, their sense of humour. These human qualities are the legacy that Alliance represents and of which I am so proud to be the current custodian.”

“Through preserving the past, we help to ensure the future.  I am extremely proud to say that this project is recognised by all those that serve in and support today’s submarine service as representing this enduring ethos.”

The official memorial to the 5,300 men who fought and died in submarines, HMS Alliance is listed in the UK’s historic ship’s register, sitting alongside the Cutty Sark, the Mary Rose, and HMS Victory in the Core Collectionlist, and she is the only remaining WW II submarine in the UK that’s open to the public.  Designed during the war for service in the Middle East, she was launched in 1945, as victory was achieved. She then began a distinguished 28 year career until she retired as the centrepiece of the Submarine Museum.

Captain Michael ‘Tubby’ Crawford, World War 2 submariner said, “HMS Alliance is our memorial to all the submariners that have served this country in the silent service” 

The Saving Alliance Appeal aims to raise the £6 million that the conservation work is budgeted to cost.  Over £4.6 million in funds and pledges has already been achieved, including £3 million pledged by the Heritage Lottery Fund. A further £1.5 million is required for a new Alliancegallery.

 The preservation work has three main planks: repair, conservation, and a dry hard standing: the repair or replacement of rusted component parts, restoration to her pristine exterior condition, and facilities for a future maintenance regime.

 To provide access for low cost maintenance, land underneath the submarine must be reclaimed. Using a cofferdam and backfill, a new, dry hard standing will allow access to the whole vessel for routine exterior maintenance and also give visitors the opportunity to view the underside of the hull.

 Repair and presentation to HMS Alliancewill be in a form as close as possible to when she entered active service, preserving some of her subsequent adaptations, while at the same time providing safe access for visitors. As much as possible of the original fabric of the boat will be preserved and like-for-like features and materials will be used.

 Vice Admiral Sir Tim McClement, Chairman of the Alliance Appeal and second in command on HMS Conqueror, the submarine that sank the Belgrano in the Falklands Conflict said ‘The outer skin of Alliance is deteriorating at such a rate that we haven’t a moment to lose, so funding for the work must be found as quickly as possible.’

 Sir Tim McClement is calling on all sectors of the community to help raise the funds needed, from individuals to groups and societies, and from schools to businesses.