The HMS Caroline, a historic naval ship, will be opened to the public on May 31st in Belfast after a €19 million refit. The opening will be marked by a commemoration to honour the 10,000 Irishmen who served in World War 1.
The HMS Caroline was used in the first World War most notably in the Battle of Jutland on May 31st 1916. This was one of the largest ever naval battles and she was only remaining survivor still afloat after the battle. The total loss of life during this battle was 9,823 including 300 Irishmen.
After this battle the HMS Caroline went on to be used in World War 2 as the Royal Navy’s headquarters in Belfast. When the war ended she served as a floating training establishment by the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve until 2009. She was finally decommissioned in 2011.
The ship has been refitted with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stormont’s Department of Trade and Investment (DETI) and will be transformed into a floating museum. The vessel will be restored to it’s former glory and visitors will get to see what life aboard ship was like for royal marines.
The newly refitted ship will be officially launched at a commemoration service in Belfast on May 31st. Descendants of the Irish who died in the battle will attend this ceremony as well as Senior politicians. Around the country other commemorative events will be taking place in the ports in Ireland. Members of Irish Lights, maritime emergency services and families of those who served will gather together to mark this historic day.