PLANS to moor HMS Edinburgh at Leith have been given a royal seal of approval.
Bosses of the Royal Yacht Britannia attraction say they would like to take on the task of running HMS Edinburgh, if the retired warship can be secured as another tourist attraction for Leith.
The Evening News revealed on Saturday that the Ministry of Defence, which previously insisted the Type 42 destroyer would be put up for auction, has had a change of heart and is now ready to enter talks about a direct sale to the city council.
Estimates have suggested around £2 million might be needed to buy the ship. But today, Bob Downie, chief executive of Royal Yacht Britannia, said based on the scrap value of other vessels recently disposed of by the MoD, he believed it could be secured for as little as £200,000.
And – in a clear endorsement of the ambitious plan – he said the Britannia management would like to be considered for the role of operating the new attraction.
He said: “We would be interested in helping to run it, We have the infrastructure in place – you wouldn’t need to appoint a new chief executive and heads of department. We have a management team here and we have been running Britannia without a subsidy for 15 years very successfully.
“Anything that attracts more visitors to this part of the city can only be good for us.”
Under his stewardship Mr Downie has seen the royal frigate become one of Scotland’s most visited attractions – and he clearly senses the benefit of a new gun-metal grey addition to the area.
He added: “We’re a charitable trust so we can’t risk our money, but running it for a fee is something we would be interested in.”
Ocean Terminal shopping centre also welcomed the prospect of HMS Edinburgh joining Britannia at the waterfront. Centre manager Dennis Jones said it would enhance the whole area.
He said: “Everyone knows what a success Britannia is and to add to that would be terrific. HMS Edinburgh would pair nicely with Britannia and add to the critical mass of the whole area. Anything that pulls more people in, especially something unique, would be good not just for Ocean Terminal but all of Leith.”
The city council has pointed out the purchase price is only one element of the costs involved in establishing HMS Edinburgh as a tourist attraction. But it has been suggested the Scottish Government, VisitScotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund might all contribute to the overall project.