Thursday, January 26, 2006

 

Battle to save last U-boat

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IC Liverpool
By Amy Knopinski
January 23, 2006





BUSINESS leaders and politicians have launched a campaign to keep one of the last surviving German U-boats in Merseyside.

Liverpool's Labour leader, Joe Anderson, is appealing for national intervention after the Warship Preservation Trust, in Wirral, announced it was going into voluntary liquidation.

The owers of The Beatles Story at Albert Dock are also writing to British Waterways to ask that the star attraction, U534, be moved to Albert Dock.

Last week, the 11-strong staff at the Trust learned they are to lose their jobs next month, following the decision to close its historic collection, the largest group of preserved 20th Century warships in Europe, on February 15.

Cllr Anderson pledged to try to save the collection, and has asked if they could be brought to Liverpool as part of the city's maritime legacy.

Last night, he said the move across the Mersey would allow the collection to complement the Battle of the Atlantic war rooms already housed at the Maritime Museum on Albert Dock.

He said: "I think it would be a terrible shame for the UK, not to mention Merseyside, to lose the ships. It's important to keep them for educational purposes, for both children and adults, but also it will act as a memorial to all those who lost their lives."

Cllr Anderson plans to raise the issue at the Capital of Culture board, and is also appealing to the National Heritage lottery fund to come up with some way of keeping the collection in Merseyside.

Trust Director Jerry Goldman confirmed he was in talks with British Waterways to consider options for the future.

He said: "At this stage, everything is speculative.

"We need to deduce whether the U-boat in question could be moved and whether it is in a suitable condition to utilise as a venue/visitor attraction.

"But it could provide a much-needed local home for the boat."

The warships are being forced to move from their current location in Birkenhead because of development plans for nearby warehouses.

Mersey Docks and Harbour Company (MDHC) have offered a temporary home for the warships on the East Float

Dock, but the site is not big enough for the U-boat.

Wirral council are responsible for the cost of the move, as they are the lease holders.

The collection also includes Falklands War veteran HMS Plymouth, a Rothesay-class frigate, and another submarine, HMS Onyx, one of the last British diesel-electric submarines.

The U534, which is the only German U-boat to have been raised from the sea-bed, is owned by Danish company Den Bla Avis, and, unless a new home can be found, it will be returned to its owner in Denmark.


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