VOLUNTEERS battling to save beleaguered Birkenhead-berthed HMS Plymouth claim they can still save the ship in spite of the original September deadline passing for her sale to Turkish scrappers.
The HMS Plymouth Society claims no export licence has been applied for the towage and the warship is not UK registered, which is legally required for transfer to a port abroad.
This means that the 1959-built Falklands War frigate will not be able to leave Birkenhead before “year end or at all”, says the society.
After the collapse of the Historic Warships Museum in 2006, HMS Plymouth’s ownership passed to the Crown and then the Duchy of Lancaster, which has yet to “disclaim” the frigate, allowing it to transfer to another body.
Peel Ports Mersey, owner of Vittoria Dock, where HMS Plymouth lies derelict, apparently has “possession” of the ship in lieu of debts.
Chris Swift, society marketing consultant, said: “No export application has been made by Peel to the environment agency nor an application for towing to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, so she’s going nowhere.
“Neither can we track down any trace of the Turkish scrap company involved.”
The HMS Plymouth Society was launched last July to raise £400,000 to pay off a six year backlog of berthing fees, but it has only raised £80,000 so far from donations and pledges.
Mr Swift said: “There is surely a legal question about whether Peel, a multi-billion pound company, can sell a ship bought by public subscription from the Ministry of Defence.”
The Society wants to help turn the warship into a varied static role at a North East port, backed by Northumberland County Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, for a museum, yachting, cadet and conference centre.
Peel Ports Mersey was not available for comment on the situation.