Last surviving WWI submarine hunter looks doomed for scrap after failing to secure Autumn Statement funding

Rebecca Smith
HMS President first set sail in 1918
HMS President first set sail in 1918 (Source: HMS President Preservation Trust)

The HMS President's fate is looking uncertain, after a bid for Libor funding was turned down in Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement.

Now she faces the prospect of being scrapped in the coming weeks.

A parliamentary motion was submitted in an effort to signpost its value as a heritage site as one of the UK's last three remaining First World War warships and sole representative of the first type of purpose built anti-submarine vessels, and preserve its future through restoration funding.

Read more: The City will never forget the lessons and sacrifices of the First World War

Paul Williams, director of the HMS President Preservation Trust, said:

Her hull is only a few millimetres thick now in some places.

Therefore, if restoration funding is not found soon she will be consigned to the scrap heap - as her sister ship the HMS Chrysanthemum was in 1995.

As we mark the centenary commemorations of WWI it seems an absolute travesty that we will potentially be saying goodbye to one of only three remaining warships from that era. What a loss to our heritage that will be.

HMS President was launched in 1918 to provide protection to vital Atlantic convoys bringing aid from America to Europe and then operated as an anti-aircraft battery on the Thames during the Second World War, to protect the capital's landmarks like St Paul's Cathedral.

MPs and Peers, including the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Boyce and chairman of the Defence Select Committee Dr Julian Lewis MP had called for the ship to be saved.

HMS President also operated in the Second World War as an anti-aircraft battery
HMS President also operated in the Second World War as an anti-aircraft battery (Source: HMS President Preservation Trust)

Read more: British Airways salutes armed forces with 10 per cent discount from today

The government committed £102m of banking fines over the next four years to support Armed Forces and emergency services charities.

Among Libor commitments in Hammond's Autumn Statement £3m went towards the Army Benevolent Fund - The Soldiers' Charity, to fund improve childcare and community centre facilities for army families across varied and isolated locations, as well as £1m towards the completion of the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum.

Nearly £2.5m will go towards the RAF 100 Programme to support centenary events, celebration and education events.

Related articles