1986 – 2000 Arrival Dundee, Restoration and Relocation.
How to get the ship to Dundee from London was the first major obstacle. Could she be towed? The risks involved in such an operation were considered and, while it was possible, the stresses that she would endure in the event of bad weather provided food for further thought. The Oil Industry in the North Sea and elsewhere had revolutionised the method of carriage of large structures at sea. Ships had been built to carry ships! Offshore oil rigs were being assembled in giant modules built on-shore and transported to the off-shore rig site where they were assembled like a ‘Lego’ toy. Mammoet Shipping had offices in London and were contacted by those involved with the move of the Discovery.Mammoet owned and managed specialised heavy lift ships, ideal for the task of transporting Discovery to Dundee, and from the first contact, were keen to be involved. The Happy Mariner, a ship designed to behave like a floating dry-dock, was made available and Discovery, stripped bare for the journey, was floated on board. The following photograph shows her about to pass under Tower Bridge en route to Dundee in April 1986.
Then arriving in the river Tay at Dundee to a great welcome.
The delicate task of floating her off the Happy Mariner before moving to her berth in Victoria Dock, Dundee, took place during the 3rd and 4th of April 1986 and the following photographs record the events.
When the dust had settled and a complete survey of the ship had taken place, only then was the tremendous restoration and conservation liability confirmed to the Dundee Heritage Trust. Undaunted, it set about a program of extensive repairs and restoration. Local businesses and individuals, excited by the prospect of having the Discovery home, were generous with their contributions both in cash and kind. Her masts were again raised, her spars and rigging set up, her underwater hull inspected and repaired in dry-dock. The two following pictures show her entering and in the dry-dock.
While all this was going on her new permanent home was being constructed at DiscoveryPoint. This consisted of a purpose built dock and support facilities, including an AntarcticMuseum and Conference Centre. It was completed in 1992 and Discovery was moved and installed there on the 27th of September 1992.
Work continued as finances allowed until in 1996 Dundee Heritage Trustfinally became sole owner of the ship when it bought the Discovery from the Maritime Trust for the princely sum of £1.00 sterling (TL2.9). Do not be misled. Although this must seem like a ridiculous sum of money, it is likely that the Maritime Trust were happy to be rid of the liability. While work continued, finances became tight and work nearly ground to a halt. That is another story and one that may caution those who might consider historic ship restoration, to think carefully before embarking on such a project. Discovery and Discovery Point in all its glory are shown in the following photographs taken in the mid 1990s.
From the year 2000 I became actively involved in the restoration and conservation of Discovery. Now this story will attempt to tell of the work, background and detail of what took place from 2000 to 2010 and is still on-going. There will be many more parts to come and I hope I can do the tale justice. Until next time.
© Captain John J Watson OBE January 2012 Fethiye
Captain John: http://discoveryplus-rrsdiscoveryetc.blogspot.com