By Laura Hughes, Political Correspondent
Telegraph Online — 25 December 2017
One of Britain's last remaining World War One ships has been saved after a battle to secure funds for vital repair work. HMS President, the last preserved submarine hunter, will celebrate 100 years of service in the final centenary year of the country's wartime commemorations. But those celebrations hung in the balance after the historic ship, and veteran of the north Atlantic, failed to secure £4 million of funding.
The HMS President 1918 Preservation Trust were forced into starting the process for selling the ship for scrap, until an outpouring of support from the public and new private funding. The ship's future is now dependent on securing planning permission for the permanent mooring from the City of London. Once restored, she will serve as an educational experience for tourists alike, as well as provide business space for London start-ups.
Welcoming the news, Defence Committee chairman Julian Lewis MP, who led a group of parliamentarians campaigning to see her saved, said:
"It is cause for celebration that HMS President 1918, one of a tiny number of First World War fighting vessels still in existence, is almost ready to return home. I served on her as a Naval Reservist, when she was our HQ, and she is a proud testament to our heritage.
"The notion that she might be scrapped, just short of her centenary, was beyond belief. That the British public and other kind investors have stepped in to recognise her value and preserve her for future generations rightly honours all who served in her and in the Royal Naval Reserve."
Paul Williams, the Chairman of the HMS President Preservation Trust, added:
"HMS President isn't safe yet, but we're almost there.
"The City of London has been very supportive of our application, and clearly recognise the national and historical importance of HMS President 1918. They've even moved our mooring so tourists who climb the Monument will be able to spot the ship".
HMS President has been moored on London's Victoria Embankment for nearly 100 years and was recently transformed with a 'camouflage' paint job. The design was inspired by the geometric shapes used to mislead enemy U-boat captains during the First World War.
During the Second World War she served as an anti-aircraft battery on the Thames, protecting London landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral. She also acted as a training centre for the Royal Navy throughout the Cold War. Her sister ship, HMS Chrysanthemum, was scrapped in 1995 after falling into disrepair, leaving HMS President as the UK's last surviving submarine hunter of the First World War. HMS President was launched in 1918 to provide protection to Atlantic convoys bringing aid from America to Europe and is now used as a venue to host events.