The UK’s only nuclear-powered museum submarine has a bright new future after a ceremonial re-launch in Plymouth Naval Base.
Former head of the Royal Navy Admiral Sir Jonathon Band (retired) cut the ribbon to the face-lifted Cold War submarine to herald the next milestone in its thriving career as a tourist attraction and a newly-announced part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s (NMRN) heritage collection.
As Head of the Trustees of the NMRN, Admiral Band announced to 100 guests at Devonport Naval Base that a new memorandum of understanding between the Devonport Naval Heritage Collection (of which the decommissioned submarine is part) and the Portsmouth-based NMRN had been signed. This, and the relationship between Plymouth City Council Museums and the Devonport Naval Base Heritage Centre, gave the collection new potential.
He said: “I am now able to announce a much closer link between the Devonport Heritage Collection, including Courageous, and the National Museum In Portsmouth. This has been developed to ensure that such an important collection can be properly exploited and developed and better opened to a wider local, national and international audience with access to new streams of funding and professional support.
“It heralds an exciting future and helps to make a reality of our contribution to the new City of Plymouth flagship History and Arts Centre. The signing of the memorandum of understanding will help ensure the Devonport Naval Base heritage continues to find its rightful place on the agenda and continues to play an increasingly important part in all that Plymouth can offer.’’
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “We are delighted to be forging closer relations with Plymouth. Both of our cities are synonymous with the Navy. We look forward to working with this hugely important heritage collection which will remain in Plymouth. We will help the heritage centre and its volunteers to attract more visitors. Our formal affiliation with Courageous is the first step.”
Courageous has been open 14 years and attracted 300,000 visitors having been transformed by volunteers from a retired shell to a fascinating museum and tribute to Royal Navy submariners.
The main driving force behind this unusual attraction is former Courageous serving sailor Michael Pitkeathly. His achievement was marked by a new submarine museum building next to Courageous being named after him and unveiled as the submarine was opened.
Tours of Courageous can be booked by calling 01752 552 326.