ML restores D-Day Landing Craft to former glory
ML UK’s three-year vessel restoration of the last remaining D-Day veteran WWI landing craft has now reached its conclusion.
LCT7074 was a sinking hulk when she was discovered in Birkenhead, UK. Her twin steel hulls were delaminated, and over 99% of the vessel was submerged in salt water, resulting in the ship rapidly being destroyed. Built and launched in 1944 on the River Tyne, the 57-metre LCT7074 is the last remaining LCT located in the UK and the sole survivor of the Normandy Landings.
Following a stringent tender process, ML UK was selected to conduct all aspects of the restoration, having worked with the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) on other complex projects including the extensive restoration of the 1859 Royal Navy’s 40-gun steam-powered armoured frigate floating museum, the HMS Warrior.
The works encompassed all aspects of the project, from airbag lift to surface, to the careful move to a semi-submersible ship for her transportation, through to cleaning out tonnes of filthy sea water, to removing and replacing 200 tonnes of steel, building and fitting a new hydraulic 4-metre bow door, to the meticulous hand-painting of every square inch of the landing craft. An enormous, dead eel was an unwelcome surprise discovered hidden between the double hulls whilst the team was removing 80 tonnes of silt and debris. Whilst much of the work was heavy slog, at all times the teams needed to operate delicately in order to preserve as much of the existing vessel as possible and it was also key that the LCT was to be restored to closely resemble its D-Day configuration.
Part of a £4.9m project encompassing several Portsmouth museums, the LCT 7074 restoration was achieved through a partnership between The D-Day Story and the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), funded by The National Lottery.
Moving the completed 300-tonne LCT7074 was a complex three-day operation. She was first moved onto a barge and towed across Portsmouth Harbour to Southsea beach, where she was carefully beached then transported along the waterfront road to her final position. A purpose-built exhibition hangar has been constructed to protect her and her visitors from the elements, where LCT7074 is display with two refurbished WWII tanks which were also installed on her decks.
The restored LCT7074 is due to be officially unveiled to the public in 2021 once lockdown is lifted.
Mick Liney, MD of ML UK comments, “As always, it is a privilege to work with the National Museum for the Royal Navy and The D-Day Story, and particularly on such an interesting project. The unique nature of this rare vessel made it extremely challenging, however we ensured that it was delivered exactly on time and to budget.”
Images (c) courtesy of Maritime Films UK