Raising a glass to HMS Alliance

on Tuesday, 15 April 2014. Posted in Blog

blog 15.04 pic 2The reopening ceremony of HMS Alliance was a resounding success!


As the crowd gathered at the Alliance Centre on 3 April 2014, they were accompanied by the sounds of the Old Thumper Jazz Band as well as an unusually sunny spell which prompted CDRE Chris Munns, director of the RN Submarine Museum, to comment: “someone must think highly of us”.


Our guests were first treated to a performance put on by the talented children of Siskin Junior School, followed by a brief spraying of red confetti over the gleaming hull of HMS Alliance. The whole thing looked quite surreal, as journalists ran past capturing the wind-blown confetti whirling up and down. This was followed by a generous buffet and drinks laid out in the Alliance Centre with many a glass raised to our submarine.


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The star of the attraction, HMS Alliance, stole the show obviously. Although she had previously been previewed on a few occasions to select audiences, the sense of discovery and excitement were still strong, especially considering that some of our guests were seeing her fully restored for the first time. The Major of Gosport and his wife were some of the first guests to arrive on board, visibly impressed by the sheer amount of work put into the restoration.


We would like to thank all the people involved in the project, including our volunteers without which none of this would have been possible.

Audio Guide

on Wednesday, 26 March 2014. Posted in Blog

audio guideOnly 8 days to go before HMS Alliance reopens to the public!

Although you can never replace the unique experience of being taken through HMS Alliance with a veteran submariner, some visitors have expressed that they would like to explore the submarine at their own pace. The Museum has created an audio guide that allows us to tell the history of the submarine and what is was like to work and live onboard through the veterans who served on her.

The Audio Guide was produced by Paul Ford of Paul Ford Sound who commented, “HMS Alliance was a real gift of a project for Paul Ford Sound: a great team at the Museum, a wealth of information to draw from and of course, the spectacular submarine herself. But the real stars are the veteran submariners. I used a mixture of archive material and specially recorded interviews with the crew to give listeners a real insight into life below the waves

The Guide has also been translated into 3 foreign languages; French, Italian and German. It will be used during freeflow periods on the submarine when we are not operating guided tours.  For more information please ask at the reception desk of the Alliance Centre or call 023 9251 0354.

Personal touches on board HMS Alliance

on Thursday, 20 March 2014. Posted in Blog

Personal touchesBlog 19.03.2014 picture 1

Now that the sound design has been nailed, it’s time to nail the props...literally. In order to preserve the look of each compartment, all items need to be riveted or glued to their relevant surfaces. The final effect is amazing.

It isn’t until you touch the authentic looking cigarette packs that you realise they are made of solid plastic. Similarly, marble dust makes for some very realistic looking sugar and the detail put into the fake food in the kitchen area is eye-popping. You’ll swear those sausages are sizzling!

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The sheer volume of period everyday objects proved challenging for the team. Of all things, you would have thought that mugs wouldn’t be too hard to source, however the specific mugs used on board HMS Alliance were actually the hardest thing to find! Eventually, after an entire year of collecting items, the latter had to be made especially for the submarine. That same attention to detail has been extended to every single personal item on board.


Prepare to experience HMS Alliance as you’ve never seen her before on 3 April 2014

HMS Alliance gets a New Soundtrack!

on Wednesday, 12 March 2014. Posted in Blog

sarah angliss 03.03.2014 compressedHMS Alliance ....the finishing tweaks.

Sound designer Sarah Angliss has been busy fine-tuning HMS Alliance’s soundtrack in order to capture the authentic sounds that would have occurred onboard the World War II era submarine.

Usually the idea behind sound design in museums is to isolate them and avoid sound bleeding, which is to say to avoid having them blur into one another. Onboard HMS Alliance however, sounds would naturally bleed with all manner of machinery, loud talking and various other things firing off all around. The trick therefore was to create a perfect balance between the sounds of individual compartments and the overall ambience throughout the submarine. And it is a resounding success –if you’ll forgive the pun-!

It is in the attention to detail that HMS Alliance’s soundtrack truly shines. One minute you’ll be drawn in by the familiar flick of a cigarette being lit.

The next, the chime of a bell will let you know that a telegraph has just been received. It’s a bit like being surrounded by ghosts...but not in a creepy way! These touches really take things to a whole new level of immersion! You people will love it!

Sarah Angliss said: “Working with volunteers has been a truly wonderful experience and it has been a privilege to bring their stories to life

Prepare to experience HMS Alliance as you’ve never seen, or indeed, heard her before on 3 April 2014!


Final touches for HMS Alliance

on Friday, 28 February 2014. Posted in Blog

HMS Alliance ....the finishing touches.Blog lead image compressed

What an extremely busy week we’ve had at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. With the deck now completed, our team have been hard at work for the final fit-out. From the dedicated contractors, to the generous efforts of volunteers, to the invaluable input of our submariners...everyone has been getting involved! This could mean anything from the hi-tech reanimation of the equipment in the control room, restoration to the original lighting in dials or simply tying cap tallies...there’s always something to do.

Sound designer Sarah Angliss has been putting the final touches to Alliance’s new soundscape. Now as you walk through the boat, you will hear all manner of authentic sounds, including dramatic inclusions such as the diving stations scenario, her 8-cylinder supercharged Vickers diesel engines and  the roar of 2 tonnes of rushing water recorded especially at the Submarine Escape Training Tower (SETT) training facility in Gosport.Blog image 3 compressed


Henry Lyndsay, the specialist design consultant that has seen the project through from its inception, said: “The best bit has been working with the submariners and the little details they helped us nail.

Everyone agrees. HMS Alliance is ready to tell a better personal story now that her restoration is nearly completed. We cannot wait to finally unveil her to the public on 3 April 2014!



A Brand New Floor for HMS Alliance

Written by Bill Sainsbury on Wednesday, 29 January 2014. Posted in Blog

The HMS Alliance Conservation Project is entering the final stages of phase 2 and it’s hard not to marvel at the sheer amount of manpower and skill that has been poured into the project since its inception in October 2011.

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Back in November 2013, an exciting refurbishment project saw all the mattresses and covers cleaned, as well as props placed throughout the boat to give the illusion that the crew are still onboard. Now another equally challenging task has just been completed by Gosport-based fitting specialists Carpet Fayre Ltd. Over the course of three weeks, the flooring has been replaced throughout the boat with new tiles, casting a new light on the previously grimmer hallways. This effect is most noticed when popping into the officer’s mess. Wow! It now feels slightly bigger for some reason... Carpet Fayre Ltd. have been tremendous to work with and their craftsmanship second to none.Alliance new flooring low-res



With HMS Alliance shipshape, the final leg of work will entail clearing the engine room and preserving key items in engineering, all in preparation for her grand reopening on 3 April 2014.

Giant scarf wrapped around historic submarine

Written by Bill Sainsbury on Friday, 13 December 2013. Posted in Blog

Scarf Unveiled pic 1A 400m scarf has been wrapped around the conning tower of HMS Alliance, the historic WW2 era submarine at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport. The giant scarf is the result of a community project which has involved over 200 local knitters, knitting 1337 squares to make a scarf alleged to keep the historic submarine warm over the winter.

Gareth Brettell, Education Manager at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said,

“We are very grateful and totally amazed with results from our local knitters. Knitting has a long tradition in the Royal Navy, from the much loved woolly submarine jumpers to mending clothing while at sea. This community project has been a perfect way to develop interest in HMS Alliance”

Over 40 local community groups from the Women’s Institute, local churches, sheltered housing schemes and social knitting groups have taken part in the project to make the giant scarf. There have also been a number of individual knitting enthusiasts who contributed by knitting at home, with one lady knitting a section of scarf 200 metres long!  Each knitter has knitted at least one square and the squares have been sewn together into sections and then joined together by volunteers at the Submarine Museum. Staff from the Submarine Museum have also visited the groups and given talks and shared submarine artefacts. 

There have been an incredible 1337 squares knitted in total. The squares are all possible colours and some of the squares have patterns on them inspired by the artefacts such as the Jolly Rogers that submarines have long been associated with. One of the squares even has the words “HMS Alliance” knitted on it in Morse code.

The giant scarf has also spawned some smaller scarves which will be wrapped around the other submarines at the Museum, including Holland 1, the Royal Navy’s very first submarine launch in 1901. A celebration event to thank all the knitters was held at the Submarine Museum. The scarf will be displayed for a few days, weather permitting. In the New Year it will displayed in the Learning Centre at the Submarine Museum.

displayAlso, this month has been very exciting for the curatorial department as we have being doing some trials onboard the submarine to see how our new displays will work for the completed new interpretation of Alliance ready for patrol which will open next Easter.

The new interpretation onboard will see every compartment filled with objects, sounds and reanimated equipment to make the boat come to life giving the impression that the crew have just stepped off for a few minutes. Over the past year and a half we have been interviewing veteran submariners and looking at historical photographs to make sure that we get every detail right. A lot of time has been spent on EBay collecting objects and visiting our friends at Sabre Sales in Southsea.

We have also been testing our new audio guide for visitors who want to explore the submarine in their own time. We trialled this over the half term along with our new soundscape and so far the feedback has been really positive.

The final fit out will take place once the internal conservation has been completed in January.

An idea of how the galley on HMS Alliance will look with new interpretation. Lovely pot mess! 

Continue Reading to see Enid Fletcher, one of the knitters, taking about this community project

HMS Alliance first accessible submarine in the world

on Friday, 25 October 2013. Posted in Blog

blog October 2013Much of the internal conservation of Alliance is about cleaning, polishing and sealing. However this is being done in an extremely thorough way. In many cases components are removed and conserved in the workshop before being refitted on the boat.

As is always the case on submarines many areas that require attention are tight and difficult spaces in which to work. The image on the right showes George in the forward torpedo space.

This week HMS Alliance has become the first accessible submarine in the world. As part of the £7m conservation project to restore HMS Alliance back to her former glory, a lift has been installed to assist people with mobility difficulties to go onboard the historic submarine.

Chris Munns, Director at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum said, “The lift can transport one person in a wheelchair safely into the after-end of HMS Alliance. From that compartment they have an excellent view through the submarine engine room towards the control room. ”
“It is really marvellous to be able to offer this service to our visitors and we are all very honoured at being the first submarine that can do so! 

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Members of the Gosport Access & Inclusion Groups visited the RN Submarine Museum on Wednesday 23 October to test the new lift and experience going onboard HMS Alliance for the first time. They were met by a submariner who told them about the submarine and shared some of his personnel stories of life onboard.





Continue Reading to see Terry Rhodes taking about her first visit to HMS Alliance and the possibilities for people with disabilities

The Beginning of the End

Written by Bill Sainsbury on Thursday, 05 September 2013. Posted in Blog

HMS Alliance-the beast


Over the summer HMS Alliance has basked in the sunshine and welcomed thousands of visitors. However now that we are all “back to school”, work has begun in earnest on the final phase of the Alliance Conservation project. Contractors ML are completing the surface of the cofferdam and have built a fantastic decked walkway under the bow. This landscaping really brings a new perspective to Alliance as she now seems to loom larger because of the striking contrast of her glossy paintwork against her surroundings.


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Work has also started again on the internal conservation. The messes are nearly complete however there is still loads to do in the other areas. It is really amazing that by cleaning and polishing every square inch of the interior so much more detail of the multitude of fittings and fixtures is revealed. Alliance is really coming back to life before our very eyes!





Continue Reading to watch our youtube clip with Ian Clark, our restoration expert speaking about the internal conservation of HMS Alliance.


Back in Black

Written by Bill Sainsbury on Friday, 28 June 2013. Posted in Blog


With the grey anti corrosion undercoat complete Alliance was ready for the final coat in black. The black paint had to be done non-stop without a break in order that the paint dried with an even finish all over. The scaffolding that has shrouded the boat for the past nine months is now slowly being dismantled but there remains a lot  of finishing off work to the cofferdam while inside the boat work will carry on until February 2014. 


BFBS News Coverage

Royal Navy Submarine Museum - HMS Alliance restoration under way