HMS Trincomalee, the world’s oldest warship still afloat today, is to have its deck altered to bring it in line with its traditional configuration to cope with an increased demand for events on board.
The historic ship, a 46-gun, fifth rate Leda-class frigate which is based at Jackson Dock, Hartlepool, has announced plans to be able to combine the gun deck and Captain’s cabin to accommodate around 150 people.
At present it can host 30 to 40 guests for official functions in the Captain’s Cabin. The immediately adjacent gun deck is also used regularly for a range of functions.
The ship’s projection system has also been recently upgraded. This has already proven to be a very useful addition to the function of the professional sound system and of the quality of film screenings that the HMS Trincomalee Trust is able to host on board ship.
At Christmas, a screening of Polar Express was held in the Captain’s Cabin using the new system, which attracted lots of favourable comments. As a result, further film screenings have been requested.
HMS Trincomalee staff Lorraine Fenwick and Joanne Walker are pictured next to the ship.
General manager David McKnight said: “Over the past 12 months, we have had a sizeable increase in the number of events including business functions and weddings being hosted on board.
“As well as the gun deck and Captain’s cabin, the mess deck is also used for events, which provides plenty of atmosphere for guests.”
HMS Trincomalee has recently played host to a wide variety of events including comedy nights, cocktail parties, fayres, ghost hunting experiences, live music, military and private dinners and even a belly dancing festival.
David added: “The planned alteration, due to start shortly, is relatively straightforward as the gun deck is right next to the Captain’s cabin and is separated only by a dividing wall.
“The bulkhead between the Captain’s Cabin and the gun deck will be made demountable in line with the ship’s traditions. This means that the whole of the gun deck and Captain’s cabin will open up for larger functions.
“We are looking towards our bicentenary and there is a lot of interest in dinners and functions. We need to maximise the benefit of having increased capacity.”
Peter Olsen, Deputy Chairman of HMS Trincomalee Trust, said: “The trustees are sounding out interest for 2017 functions.
“Now is the time to be doing that and we need to make sure we have the space available for them.”
The Trust will also begin to focus more on its plans for fundraising for the 2017 bicentenary celebrations.
HMS Trincomalee lies berthed afloat at Hartlepool’s Historic Quay where she has been a major tourist attraction for the past 27 years.