Friends to safeguard the very
last British, Commonwealth and
South American Second World War Aircraft Carrier
Preservando a História da Naval Aviação Brasileira
Attention: Business news desk
Press Release 23 November 2002
HMS “VENGEANCE” One entrepreneur short of a heritage attraction.
Bid to bring Britain’s only surviving WW2 aircraft carrier home needs one more sponsor to succeed. But time is running out……
The bid to return to Britain the last surviving aircraft carrier to have fought in the Royal Navy during World War Two is in the “last chance saloon” unless a new sponsor can be found.
Philip Bush, a Swiss based British born shipbroker who is the representative of the new owner of the HMS VENGEANCE, says that unless an entrepreneur/investor can be found to sponsor bringing the aircraft carrier back to the UK from Rio de Janeiro the 17,000 ton ship will have to be sold for scrap. Plans are advanced for turning the ship into a tourist attraction if it is brought back across the Atlantic, where she has been identified as a viable business proposition.
Mr Bush says "I have clients who will invest a significant amount in the on-going project but to date we have not found the investor to place the initial capital to bring the vessel here.”
The historic aircraft carrier was sold recently after 40 years of service in the Brazilian Navy. Members of the British “Friends of the Vengeance" Campaign could not raise enough cash to buy the vessel. Philip Bush arranged the purchase of the ship in the face of rival Chinese, Indian and Brazilian bids. The Campaign says that Mr Bush is doing everything he can to allow the ship to come back to Britain to be preserved. Nevertheless in the face of mounting local costs in Rio de Janeiro a final home must be found for the vessel immediately. Failing any interest to financially support the acquisition to return her to the United Kingdom Mr Bush says the vessel will have to be sold and it is likely to end in a trip to the scrap yard.
“The Friends of the Vengeance deserve to succeed and I feel the time is running out as no serious sponsor has been found. The great shame is that I have not been able to assist them enough,” says Mr Bush. “In real terms the financier should be very easy to be found as the amount of investment to secure the return of the ship is very small. But no one has yet come forward.”
Graham Falkner Drucker of the Friends of the Vengeance yesterday indicated that "we are proposing to develop a combined word class attraction and sound commercial enterprise. When compared to similar projects in the States, this venture is anticipated to be a profitable and a viable business proposition with good investment returns". The Friends have identified that due to her large size, the ship has a unique potential for investors., such as for property and office space rental, exhibition areas for trade shows, concerts or cinema, and retail shop and food galleries. The hanger area alone is 11,500 cubic metres.
The plan is to bring the ship back to Britain and turn it into a major tourist attraction at one of Britain’s ports, and active discussions have been underway with likely venues including the Port of London, Plymouth, Southampton, Torbay and the Fal Estuary. Detailed discussions are underway with SW Chamber of Commerce, Devon and Cornwall Business Council, and also Finance Cornwall to berth the historic vessel in one of the larger ports in the South-West of England, where it is hoped the ship will draw up to 400,000 visitors a year to the area where it is berthed.
James Watling, Chaiman of the Vengeance Veterans Association that is supporting the campaign said yesterday: “This is an opportunity to save a unique piece of Britain’s naval heritage”. Mr Watling served on this Colossus class carrier as an aircraft handler during 1949-1950.
Laid down in the Newcastle yard of Swan Hunter in 1942, the 17,000 tonne Vengeance – motto “I Strike, I Cover” - served in both the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres during the war. After a stint on loan to the Australian Navy the carrier was sold to the Brazilian Navy in 1957 and served as their flagship as the "Minas Gerais" until it was decommissioned last October. She is currently moored in Rio de Janeiro harbour.
During the Second World War, Vengeance operated Corsair fighters of 1850 squadron Fleet Air Arm and Barracuda dive bombers of 812 squadron in raids off the coast of Italy. After celebrating VE day in Valetta harbour, Malta, the 700-foot long carrier sailed to the Pacific where she helped provide cover for the planned invasion of Japan, and was present at the unconditional surrender of the Japanese. Remarkably she is the only WW2 aircraft carrier of the Royal Navy to survive of the 100 built.
Historic and current colour photographs of the ship are available. Please contact the Friends of the Vengeance who can forward them to the press.
Friends of the Vengeance Website: http://www.fleetairarmarchive.net/vengeance
Friends of the Vengeance. Fax: 01262 490248.
HMS Vengeance Veterans Association. Fax: 01395 577700.
Chairman, South West Region Chamber of Commerce. Fax: 01803 405 609.
Chairman, Devon and Cornwall Business Council. Fax: 01752 256449.
HMS Vengeance in 1946 (Photo courtesy of the HMS Vengeance Veterans association)
NAeL Minas Gerais (ex HMS Vengeance) in late 1990s after
refit (Photo courtesy of HMS Vengeance website)