A BID to bring retired warship HMS Edinburgh to the Capital as a “floating museum” is steaming ahead after the Lord Provost contacted navy chiefs to express interest in securing the iconic vessel.
Culture bosses confirmed they had launched a probe into the viability of obtaining the decommissioned Type 42 destroyer, known as the “Fortress of the Sea”, as part of plans to install her next to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith.
It has also emerged moves to have HMS Edinburgh’s parts put in safe keeping ahead of a possible city berthing are under way, with the Royal Navy’s fleet chaplain asking ministers at St Giles’ Cathedral to act as guardians of the ship’s bell.
Lord Provost Donald Wilson said: “I have written to the Royal Navy expressing our interest and instructed officers to work with Forth Ports and others to assess the practicalities of bringing HMS Edinburgh back to the city.
“As the growing support for the ‘Save HMS Edinburgh’ campaign indicates, it would clearly be a popular move and one that I remain hopeful we can pursue.”
Campaign leaders have hailed confirmation of council support for the bid and said they were more hopeful than ever it would succeed.
Paul Gibb, 40, a former marine engineering mechanic on the ship from 1991 to 1994, said: “I am very optimistic at the moment. The council’s viability study gives me the most confidence. It will cost quite a lot of money, particularly in the current climate, and you wouldn’t do that unless you thought it was feasible.”
Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald, who has already written to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to put the case for mooring the ship in Leith, said: “I’m delighted this is being moved forward. I would like to see as much of the ship, as many parts as possible, retained. This is so obviously a good idea.”
Defence chiefs confirmed they had been approached by the city council over obtaining HMS Edinburgh but said discussions were at an early stage.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We always aim to achieve the best possible return for the taxpayer when disposing of surplus assets and it is likely that interested parties will be invited to formally submit proposals next year.”
Moves to bring the retired ship to the Capital also echo the successful preservation of HMS Belfast, a Second World War light cruiser, which was opened near London’s Tower Bridge as a permanent attraction in 1971 by the Imperial War Museum.