HMS Victory, the Cutty Sark, Brunel’s steamship Great Britain… The United Kingdom has many of the most famous preserved historic ships in the world, which indicates the importance of shipping to British history. However ships are expensive to maintain and often cannot recover all their costs from becoming visitor attractions, so there is a need to make sure that the resources
available for historic ship preservation - private, state or local authority - are directed towards the most deserving and important projects.

To date there are no preserved or safeguarded Aircraft Carriers in the UK, and no plan to set up or preserve any. This is quite in contrast with the USA where up to 11 aircraft carriers are in preservation as ship museums (see FAA archive world carrier list). Yet, the UK still has a chance to safeguard some of its former aircraft carriers which subsequently saw service in Argentina, Australia, Brazil and India and which were still in existence at the start of 2001. See the FAA Archive Surviving carrier page directory for a summary of the surviving RN and Commonwealth carriers which still survive today in the 21st Century. Conservation is required urgently and a campaign of effort to ensure their survival.

Museum Proposal
to identify and preserve a Royal Navy aircraft carrier for future generation

Please help us to preserve our shared naval aviation heritage.

If you have information about available Aircraft Carriers with a Royal Navy history which fills gaps in the preservation scene please contact us. In future editions of the FAA archive NEWS we will keep you informed with out progress to preserve our Royal Navy and FAA Heritage.


So as to commence the "Save a Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier" Campaign, the basic ingredients will involve a feasibility study involving a review of the existing ships, and the elaboration of a ship conservation plan.  The Aircraft Carrier conservation plan will include the following:

  • an in-depth review of the history of the ship;
  • an assessment of the cultural significance of the vessel (covering her various changes in configuration);
  • the defining of conservation policies designed to respond to the vulnerability of any aspects of the ship identified as having particular significance;
  • development of a detailed operational conservation plan, based upon the above conservation policies, for the care and maintenance of the ship.

Although guidelines exist for the preparation of Conservation Plans it is important to note that each vessel's plan will be to a large extent unique and specific to that ship.

There are three key bodies which may be able to assist in the eventual safeguarding of at least one former Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier, namely the National Historic Ships Committee (NHSC)- the UK body aiming to develop a national policy on historic ship preservation in the UK. At the international level, the World Ship Trust is dedicated to preserve vessels of our International Sea Heritage, and the Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA), whose mission is to assist its Fleet Members in the acquisition, restoration, and display of their museums and memorials. The HNSA  membership already includes four preserved WW2 Aircraft Carriers.

Contact: HMS Plymouth, Dock Road, Birkenhead. L41 9BP.

UK National Historic Ships Committee (NHSC)

The NHSC was set up in 1993, with backing of the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport and the National Maritime Museum, to provide guidelines for the choice of ships which should be preserved for the nation. The NHSC has also set itself the task of devising standards of care to conserve them, and to advise government departments and funding bodies on the relative merits of ship preservation projects being undertaken.

Policy Statement
The aim of the NHSC is to secure the preservation in the long term of a sample of ships
representing important aspects of maritime history, with particular reference to the United


  • To provide guidance on the selection of ships for preservation.
  • To provide guidance on the allocation of funding for the acquisition, preservation and maintenance of historic ships.
  • To maintain a database on ships currently preserved and of candidates for preservation.
  • To ensure the proper recording of historic vessels.
  • To identify source and review the adequacy of funding for the acquisition, conservation, restoration and accommodation of historic ships.
  • To keep under review legislation as it affects historic ships.

To approve guidelines for acceptable standards of conservation and restoration.

C G Allen, Secretary NHSC,
66 Hartford House,
Pembroke Park,
Hampshire PO1 2TW
Tel and Fax: +44 23 92 838040.

National Register of Historic Vessels and National Historic Ships Project

To help the NHSC meet its objectives, the Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies assisted the NHHC to begin work on the following:

  • A computerised inventory of craft known as the National Register of Historic Vessels
  • A set of criteria and an evaluation system which would provide an objective method of  deciding the relative merits of vessels
  • A project costing system to assist in the production of realistic business plans for preservation projects

The brief for the National Register of Historic Vessels is to record all historic vessels and craft which are already preserved or likely to become available. It may be that an historic vessel has yet to reach the end of its working life, but will be a likely candidate for preservation once it does. Vessels also have to meet the following criteria;

  •      built in the UK before the end of 1945
  •      remaining in the UK or operating in our territorial waters

     over 40 tons displacement and/or over 40ft (12.19m) in length

A short list of vessels, of which a draft was released 1 November 1999 are thought to be so nationally significant that they should have priority for receiving the resources and money that is available to preserve historic vessels in the United Kingdom.

Dr Robert Prescott, Project Director or
Deanna Groom, Research Officer
National Historic Ships Project
Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies
University of St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AJ
Tel: 01334 462916. Fax: 01334 462927
WWW: National Historic Ships Project

Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA)

The Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA). The mission of the Association is to assist its Fleet Members in the acquisition, restoration, and display of their museums and memorials.
Its purpose is to facilitate the exchange of information and provide mutual support among those who are working hard to maintain their aging vessels physically and financially. The ships of HNSA are located in the USA, as well as in Canada, western Europe and Australia.

The Association's ships, if brought together under one command, would provide the rare vision of
an international naval battle group of the most diverse capabilities. The vessels, represented in
HNSA and described in this guide, are American in the majority, but one will also find ships from
Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, The Netherlands, and the Soviet
Union. The types of vessels arrayed within these pages include aircraft carriers battleships, cruisers, destroyers, submarines, PT boats, tall ships, tugboats, and deep-diving research submarines. Anyone who wishes to explore the maritime past or who desires to contribute his or her own resources to support projects like these, is welcome to visit and learn more about these veterans of many wars.

Objectives of the Association:

  • To educate the public on the rich naval maritime heritage of the member ships; the roles the ships have played in their countries' histories; and the importance of preserving historic naval ships for future generations.
  • To foster the exchange of information and experiences among the member ship staffs to enable them to develop and conduct educational programs to spread knowledge of their histories to the public.
  • To provide information, assistance and support to the member ship staffs to enable them to manage and operate their facilities in the most efficient manner possible.

Historic Naval Ships Association
c/o U.S. Naval Academy Museum
118 Maryland Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21402-5034

World Ship Trust

The World Ship Trust is dedicated to preserve vessels of our International Sea Heritage. It participates in the recognition of, and support for, historic vessels. It bestows its prestigious Maritime Heritage Award upon those ships considered of transcendent importance in the context of maritime history and heritage. It sponsors the highly-respected International Register of Historic Ships.

International Register of Historic Ships

The International Register of Historic Ships, now in its 3rd edition. has no less that 2,000 ships
from 72 countries, over 1,200 photographs and a wealth of detail. It also includes vessels of
considerable historic value which should be preserved but have not so far been acquired by any
museum or maritime preservation group. It shows where they are lying, their condition and their
historic importance, and it is hoped that readers may feel stimulated do something about their
rescue and repair.

World Ship Trust
202 Lambeth Road,
London, SE1 7JW
Telephone +44 (020)-7385 4267
WWW: World Ship Trust Or, in the United States:
2833 Woodlawn Avenue, Falls Church, VA 22042 Telephone (703) 534-1516 Norman J. Brouwer, International Register of Historic Ships (Peekskill, New York: Sea History Press, Third Edition, 1999)


        Created: 15-3-2001, Last modified 6-6-2005


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