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H. M. S. Tamar found in Victoria Harbour. What next?

2015/4/22 — 9:55

On April 11, 1897, the 30-year-old 4,600 tons displacement sail and steam-powered troop ship, H.M.S. Tamar, was 'hulked' to serve as a 'Nominal Depot Ship' and anchored permanently by the Naval Dockyard – today the location of the Government Offices and Legislative Council. Hong Kong was attacked and invaded by the Japanese Imperial Army and air force from December 8, 1941 onwards. When the defeat of the Hong Kong force was only a matter of time, H. M. S. Tamar was towed out to deep water and, during the night of December 11/12, scuttled to prevent her use by the invaders. According to the Royal Navy Research Archive: “She didn't die willingly. Shore base artillery had to be engaged to finish her off.”

On 28 March 2015 it was reported that the remains of a large suspected shipwreck had been found in the sea bed off Wan Chai during dredging works for the construction of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass. The Civil Engineering and Development Department deployed frogmen and specialists to examine what appears to be the keel of a vessel which is around 90 metres long. Investigations have made it increasingly clear that the wreck is the H. M. S. Tamar.

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There are three options. One is to cut it into a thousand pieces and remove these to a landfill. Two, they can use force to move (and damage) the wreck around 50 metres and leave it for later possible salvage. The third option is the most expensive. They can cut it carefully into a few pieces which can be extracted and conserved as an exhibit on the harbourfront as public art. There is a lot of money at stake here and plenty of pressure to come up with a quick solution so that the construction of the Central-Wanchai Bypass can proceed. The question is now, will the community accept the delay and the costs, and take this as an opportunity to do something world class with the right expertise and budget?

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