National Historic Ships UK’s annual awards ceremony is a celebration of maritime heritage around UK coasts, lakes, and rivers. It encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to engage with static and operational historic vessels through photography, volunteering, conservation, online activities and skills-based training.
In honour of National Historic Ships UK’s late Director, Martyn Heighton, the Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award is now in its third year. Launched to mark best practice in the conservation of historic vessels, this Award boasts a hand carved trophy that was commissioned using wood previously removed from HMS Victory
This year’s recipient of the Award is the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) for their conservation of LCT 7074. Supported by The Heritage Memorial Fund, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and working with partners Portsmouth City Council, LCT 7074 has been raised, transported to Portsmouth, conserved, interpreted and opened to the public in a new, purpose-built graving dock and canopy structure at the D-Day Story, Southsea, Hampshire.
LCT 7074 is the only surviving Landing Craft (Tank) that participated in Operation Neptune, the Naval Dimension of Operation Overlord, the allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe in 1944. Of the 6,883 vessels that took part in the D-Day landings, including 1200 warships, 4000 landing craft of various types and nearly 900 merchant vessels, LCT 7074 is one of the only two survivors.
By 2014, the ship had sunk at her moorings at Birkenhead, and was likely to be scrapped. The then Director of National Historic Ships UK, Martyn Heighton, approached the National Museum of the Royal Navy and suggested that the museum was best placed to raise the funds and undertake the work necessary to raise, conserve and display the vessel.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said:
“It has been a momentous year for LCT 7074 now safely berthed and on display at the D-Day Story in Southsea after a six-year project to save her for the nation.
“It was partly due to the foresight of the then Director of National Historic Ships UK, the late Martyn Heighton who suggested that the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) was best placed to raise the funds and undertake the work necessary to raise, conserve and display the vessel. It is, therefore, a very fitting tribute to Martyn that NMRN has been awarded the Excellence in Maritime Conservation’ category in the awards made by National Historic Ships UK.
“We are hugely proud of the conservation expertise of our historic ships team, the largest of its kind in the world. The sheer scale of LCT 7074 is breath-taking and we were honoured to bring her back to life. Her move, from Portsmouth Naval Base to Southsea seafront, in an echo of D-Day itself, was dogged by complexity, delay, working against shifting tides, high winds, and a race against time and road closures, all during COVID restrictions.
“It could only be achieved with joint partnership working and we are particularly grateful to our partners at Portsmouth City Council, the Royal Navy and Portsmouth Naval Base and to our funders at the National Lottery Heritage Fund.”
To find out more about LCT 7074, please visit www.nmrn.org.uk