General Election 2019 candidate's plan to turn warship into South Shields tourist attraction

A General Election candidate believes an historic ex-naval warship should be berthed in South Shields as a tourist attraction.

Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 11:48 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th December 2019, 1:46 pm

The 24,000-tonnes warship was sold by Great Britain to the Indian navy four years later and is now destined to be auctioned by the Indian government.

Potential uses have included converting it into a luxury hotel for wealthy guests.

HMS Hermes returns to Portsmouth at the end of the Falklands conflict in 1982.

But Conservative candidate Oni Oviri, seeking to overturn a 14,508 Labour majority in South Shields on December 12, is backing a late bid to urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a postponement of Friday’s auction.

She instead believes it could become a tourist attraction at the town’s Port of Tyne.

Ms Oviri said: "I really hope that the Prime Minister gets behind the bid to save Hermes and that we could bring her to a new home in Tyneside.

“We have big plans for Tyneside as a free port and with a new ferry service and having a hero of the Falklands Conflict here would be a major tourist attraction.

Conservative candidate Oni Oviri, left, campaigning in South Shields.

“HMS Belfast on the Thames proves that keeping great battleships and turning them into a visitor attraction works, so I want us to do the same with Hermes."

The £5m campaign is led by former Tory MEP Dale Campbell Bannerman, who said: "I welcome the fact that there is interest around the country for Hermes to have a new home as a visitor attraction. It shows that people care about our naval heritage and Hermes should not just be turned into scrap."

Ms Oviri, a businesswoman and Conservative councillor in Croydon, believes free port status after Brexit is resolved would help South Shields to become “Britain’s Dubai”.

The apolitical Port of Tyne is expected to comment on her ideas after the election.