A MAN seeking to salvage wreckages of some of the world’s most famous ships wants to use a Flintshire landmark as a dive base.
Douglas Woolley wants to use the TSS Duke of Lancaster ship, currently beached near Mostyn, as a base ship to dive off in projects to recover RMS Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong harbour and the Titanic in the North Atlantic.
Mr Woolley, 77, of Essex, said he wants to make the Flintshire landmark seaworthy again.
But the prospects of those dreams ever getting close to becoming a reality have been questioned by the ship’s co-owner John Rowley – who described the idea as a wind-up.
Highlighting his ambitious plans, Mr Woolley said: “We’re trying to carry out a lift of what’s left of the QE1 [RMS Queen Elizabeth] in Hong Kong and are looking at the Duke of Lancaster as a base ship to do diving off and to be fitted out to do search work.
“When I first saw the vessel, I thought ‘what a wreck’, so we want to make it seaworthy again for this project.”
The iconic ship has been beached at Llanerch-y-mor since 1979.
Built in Belfast in 1956, it operated as a European cruiser until 1969 when it was converted to a car ferry.
Liverpool-based Empirewise bought and beached her on the fishing dock near Mostyn.
It opened to the public in 1980 as the ‘Funship’ and plans to convert the cabins into a hotel fell through when the owners failed to obtain planning consent.
Mr Woolley, who claims to own the UK salvage rights to both the Titanic and Queen Elizabeth wrecks, has worked for more than 50 years to try to get the project off the ground.
“We could use any ship, but the Duke of Lancaster is an opportunity,” he said.
“It’s just lying there so I thought we could have a go. I found the previous stories about the ship in the Leader were fascinating.
“We don’t yet know how much it would cost to move the Funship but it would have to be modified and reconstructed for her to move.”
Co-owner Mr Rowley did not share Mr Woolley’s optimism.
“I have no comment on the idea,” he said. “I would be amazed if Mr Woolley is able to keep a straight face through it all.
“I obviously do not share the same sense of humour as this budding salvage man, but each to their own.”
Mr Woolley, a former railway worker, added: “The Duke of Lancaster was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, the same ones who built the Titanic.
“It’s a fantastic connection and it would be brilliant to strengthen that.”