Friday, February 04, 2005


National historic ships unit to be launched


February 02, 2005

Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh today announced the creation of a National Historic Ships Unit.

Giving evidence today to the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, Andrew McIntosh said:

"Historic Ships are an important part of our rich maritime heritage and this year's 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar underlines that.

But the approach to the preservation of historic ships has been fragmented and uncoordinated with no clear sense of priorities.

" We are therefore committed to delivering a national policy on ship preservation that preserves the best of our maritime heritage and we have consulted widely.

Following consultation I am today announcing the establishment of a National Historic Ships Unit to advise the Government on policy and funding priorities for historic ships, to co-ordinate work within the sector to assist those directly engaged in preservation; and to maintain an up to date register of the historic fleet, including the National Register of Historic Ships and "At Risk" register.

The Unit will encourage a better understanding of the costs of restoring and maintaining historic vessels; advise the Heritage Lottery Fund on ship preservation priorities and bids for funding and promote historic ships to a wider audience."
Rear Admiral Roy Clare, Director of the National Maritime Museum, said :

"The National Maritime Museum welcomes the announcement of the new Unit, which will substantially enhance the expertise and organisational resources available to those responsible for Britain's many significant historic vessels.

The product of extensive consultation by DCMS, the Unit aims to refine and focus advice available to grant-giving bodies, such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This outcome owes much to the drive of the Admiral of the Fleet Sir Julian Oswald, until recently Chairman of the National Historic Ships Committee, whose leadership has helped to bring about the revised policy.

The Museum looks forward to sustaining its support for the heritage fleet and assisting directly with the process of establishing the Unit in Greenwich under an independent board."

Notes to Editors
1. Based at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich the Unit will be established in interim form during 2005/06, and from 2006/07 will be overseen by an Independent Advisory Board appointed by the Secretary of State. We shall be consulting on the establishment of the Advisory Board.

2. A sum of 100,000 has been allocated to establish an interim Unit in 2005/06. In 2006/07 this will increase to 170,000 with a further 80,000 held by DCMS for a challenge fund to support research, publications, training, recording and similar activities relating to the preservation of historic vessels.

3. The Heritage Lottery Fund will continue to be the main source of capital funding for historic ship projects. However, the new Unit will provide HLF with a valuable source of advice when considering bids from ships in the historic fleet.

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