Cold War Centre Update

By Ian Whitehouse

In October 2021 the National Museum Royal Navy (NMRN) decided to formally adopt and lead Phase 1 of a programme to place COURAGEOUS in a permanent dry dock – No.1 Historic Dock, South Yard, Devonport.

This Phase could last 3-5 years and will provide time for NMRN to work with the COURAGEOUS Management Group and Naval Base Commander to develop and market COURAGEOUS as a public visitor attraction.

A handover phase, to implement Phase 1, commenced in May this year. Work will soon start to develop Phase 2, the development of a Business Case for investing in the necessary dock and museum infrastructure to be fully assessed and, if approved, funds raised.

At this stage total costs are estimated at circa £15M – with approximately one third for preparing and renovating the dock to accept COURAGEOUS with the remainder being the cost of creating a Cold War Centre based around renovated Bonaventure & Flotilla Houses.

Separately, the Cold War Project Team remain engaged with the Defence Nuclear Organisation and Navy Command to agree the principles of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Defence and NMRN for maintaining the material condition of COURAGEOUS so that the submarine can be retained as a museum exhibit in dry dock for 50+ years.

The Cold War Project Team continues to engage other potential stakeholders in an effort to maximise opportunities and synergies across the UK.

Work is underway to link digitally a new Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality version of the COURAGEOUS experience to other NMRN museums, the Scotland Submarine Museum, industry STEM initiatives and Plymouth County Council; we are also progressing video recording of submarine veteran experiences for posterity.

The COURAGEOUS Management Group with the COURAGEOUS Volunteer Guides are progressing actions to make the administration and management of public access to the boat simpler, while encouraging new
16 volunteers to join the team. It is anticipated that The Submarine Family, supported by the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Charity, will become more integrated with the NMRN instrumental in shaping the future delivery of the Cold War Centre project.

While efforts continue to develop the CWC, it is of particular note that COURAGEOUS is not yet open to visitors while certain aspects of accessibility are resolved. However, it is expected the submarine will re-open later this year. The NMRN is also extremely busy with a number of other national projects, each of which is more advanced in development than the CWC.

The CWC Project Team with NMRN will be hosting a dinner, in March 2023, for submarine related industry players, supporters and others to kick start fundraising to complete Phase 1 of the project and facilitate Phase 2.

The future for COURAGEOUS and the proposed Cold War Centre is far brighter and more positive than has been the case, but the next 3-5 years of Phase 1 are critical if the NMRN, Submarine Service and Plymouth are to realise the opportunities and benefits of delivering COURAGEOUS and a Cold War Centre open to the public.