Wartime rescue boat set to sail to Hartlepool as part of £1million investment by National Museum of the Royal Navy

RML 497 is currently berthed on Southampton Water but is due to arrive in Hartlepool in January 2019.
RML 497 is currently berthed on Southampton Water but is due to arrive in Hartlepool in January 2019.

A nationally important rescue boat that played a number of roles in the Second World War is set to sail into Hartlepool in January.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool will welcome the arrival Rescue Motor Launch (RML) 497 as part of a £1.1million investment programme.

Gill Alexander, Chief Executive of Hartlepool Borough Council

Gill Alexander, Chief Executive of Hartlepool Borough Council

She is due to be restored in town before going on permanent display to tell her colourful history.

During the war, the 112ft wooden boat was used in submarine hunting, anti-aircraft protection, and rescuing downed airmen.

Her move is part of plans by the National Museum of the Royal Navy to improve its offer in Hartlepool following its takeover of the key tourist attraction.

Civic leaders at Hartlepool Borough Council are working with the museum as part of wider regeneration work of the Hartlepool waterfront.

Council Chief Executive Gill Alexander said: “RML 497, which I was privileged to see some footage of actually in action in the Imperial War Museum, was a really important part of the defence of this country in World War Two.

“We’re going to welcome that as a new exhibition which is going to become a really important part of an expansion of the offer of the museum and the waterfront.”

A huge operation will be mounted as the 70 tonne boat is lifted out of the water and barged 400 nautical miles from her current berth on Southampton Water to Hartlepool.

Planning permission was granted earlier this year for her to be located at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool.

Ms Alexander added: “Obviously, if there’s storms at sea it will have to find a safe haven but hopefully it will come safely in on time.

“That’s going to be a really great beginning to the new year because it will mark the next stage in the transformation of Hartlepool which we are now beginning to see is really evident.”

The Tees Valley Combined Authority made a grant of £499,250 towards her relocation combined with an investment by the National Museum.

Rosalyn Adamson, general manager of The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, previously said: “Her arrival will be a real spectacle and we can’t wait to welcome her on site.”

RML 497 is one of the dwindling number of survivors of her class.

Around 650 such launches built by, or under licence from, the Fairmile company between 1940 and 1945 to meet the huge demands placed on the Royal Navy fleet during the war.

She carried out search and rescue missions in the English Channel and took part in a commando raid on the Channel Islands in the aftermath of D-Day.