Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Final Berth: Ark Royal Could Become Floating Museum in Docklands

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Final Berth: Ark Royal Could Become Floating Museum in Docklands

Article excerpt

Byline: Pippa Crerar City Hall Editor

THE aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal could be brought to London and transformed into a museum and visitor attraction.

The Navy's flagship, which will be taken out of service within weeks after being axed by the Ministry of Defence, would be moored at Royal Docks in east London, the Evening Standard has learned.

She could operate along the lines of HMS Belfast, which is run by the Imperial War Museum and docked near London Bridge.

However, at many times the size, she could also become a large commercial operation hosting events, shops, restaurants and even a hotel or casino.

The proposal is one of several being considered by the MoD. It is also looking at scrapping, selling or recycling the 25-year-old vessel.

Senior Navy figures are holding talks with the Mayor's office about bringing Ark Royal to the capital. Boris Johnson is understood to be interested in the regeneration opportunities it could create for the East End.

His economic adviser Anthony Browne told the Standard: "In other parts of the world, decommissioned aircraft carriers have been turned into successful visitor attractions.

"We will help those who would like to do the same with the Ark Royal and bring it to London, as it could help with the economic regeneration.

However it is very early days and there are many very real hurdles to overcome."

City Hall insiders pointed to the success of USS Intrepid, an American carrier that is now a museum on the Hudson River in New York. The ship, which served in the Second World War, Vietnam and the Cold War, attracts almost a million visitors a year with its flight simulator, Growler submarine, Concorde and 25 aircraft.

There are thought to be seven aircraft carriers open to the public around the world -- five in the US, one in China and one in India. …

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