Saturday, April 01, 2006

 

Wanted: Cardiff home for a Soviet submarine

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South Wales Echo
By Gareth Rogers
March 28, 2006



Foxtrot B-39 (U 475) was built in 1967, and used
specifically for training foreign submariners -
Libyan, Cuban and Indian.

A cold War Soviet submarine owner wants to bring his vessel to Cardiff Bay as a tourist attraction.

Businessman John Sutton bought the ex-Soviet Navy submarine, formerly nuclear-powered, in 2000.

It is currently docked in Strood docks on the River Medway, in Kent, but Mr Sutton says he would love to transform it into a floating museum based at the graving docks at a personal cost of £130,000.

Mr Sutton, 41, who is originally from Cwmbran but now lives in London and hires the submarine out for films, fashion shoots and James Bond parties, said that as well as continuing to let it out for corporate hire, he would also like it to become an education resource for local school children.

He said: 'Cardiff is an ideal location for the submarine.

'It would be great for school children to teach them some of the history. It's a relic from the Cold War - there's not many of these things around.'

Mr Sutton first approached Cardiff Harbour Authority with the idea three years ago but has said he has been disappointed with the reaction.

'I travelled to Cardiff recently and took a walk around the graving docks, as I have done on numerous occasions in the past three years, and I thought what a complete waste of valuable dock space. I am sure that if the council had asked local businesses three years ago if they would welcome something like a submarine as a semi-permanent attraction and until a future was decided for the graving docks, they would have had very few objections.

'All that has happened in the past three years is that the graving docks have remained virtually unused and earning no revenue for Cardiff whilst the council have dithered with decision making.'

Simon Howells, operations manager of leisure and tourism at the Cardiff Harbour Authority said that the future of the graving docks was uncertain pending a decision on plans for a white water rafting centre in the Bay.

But he added: 'Once we have a confirmed position on the future use (of the graving docks) we would investigate options for vessels at that point.

'This is likely later this year but I cannot confirm that at this stage.' Mr Howells added that berthing a feature vessel in the docks was being considered.

Cardiff council planning chief Elaine Cripps said the white water rafting centre would be located in the Sports Village therefore freeing up the graving docks again in the future.

But Mr Sutton said he is also considering three other locations in Glasgow, London and Chatham Dock, in Kent, as potential sites for his submarine.


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