For some unknown reason the photographs has a pink tint which I removed.
HMS Caroline was built by Cammell Laird of Birkenhead. She was laid down on 28 January 1914, launched on 29 September 1914 and completed in December 1914. Caroline was part of the early sub-set of C-class light cruisers built without geared turbines and subsequent comparisons with later vessels of the same class demonstrated the superiority of geared propulsion. Caroline’s machinery is still in place today, although not in working order.
After the Second World War, the Royal Navy returned Caroline to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and she served as its last afloat training establishment. She underwent a refit at Harland and Wolff in Belfast in 1951.
The Royal Naval Reserve Unit decommissioned from the ship in December 2009, moved ashore, and recommissioned as the “stone frigate” (i.e., shore establishment) HMS Hibernia. Caroline herself was decommissioned on 31 March 2011 in a traditional ceremony. Her ensign was laid up in St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.
Caroline is listed as part of the National Historic Fleet. On her decommissioning, she was placed into the care of the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, though remaining moored in her position in Alexandra Dock in Belfast. Although no longer capable of making way under her own power, Caroline remains afloat and in excellent condition. Buffeting from waves and high winds have caused the ship to almost come away from her moorings several times. In 2005, during a storm, she ripped several huge bollards out of the jetty concrete, but failed to break free entirely. She was not normally open to tourists, although entrance was gained during the annual RMS Titanic celebrations.
Upon Caroline’s decommissioning in 2011, her future was uncertain. Proposals were made to return the ship to her First World War appearance, which among other things would have involved sourcing and installing 6-inch (152.4 mm) and 4-inch (102 mm) guns of that era and removing the large deckhouse from her midships deck. One proposal considered was to remain in Belfast as a museum ship within the Titanic Quarter development alongside SS Nomadic. Another was a move to Portsmouth, with many of her original fittings restored to return her as much as possible to her First World War appearance.
In June 2012 plans to move Caroline to Portsmouth were announced, subject to the availability of funding. However, in October 2012 the Northern Ireland government announced that the ship would remain in Belfast and that the National Heritage Memorial Fund had pledged £1,000,000 to help to restore her. In May 2013 the Heritage Lottery Fund announced an £845,600 grant to support conversion work as a museum.