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Farewell to Dockyard crests

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It’s a whitewash!: the last of Dockyard’s historic naval emblems have been painted over as part of the major renovation project

The last of Dockyard’s historic naval emblems have been painted over as part of the major renovation project on the South Basin.

For decades navy crews proudly painted their ships’ crest on the concrete walls surrounding the South Yard where the vessels berthed.

Between 1951 and 1995 scores of vessels from across the world passed through Bermuda and left their mark in the West End.

Over the years the crests have faded away and many of the emblems have been repainted by volunteers.

However, last week the last of the crests were whitewashed as part of the upgrade. Edward Harris, director of the National Museum, revealed that all the crests had been photographed and were available on the museum’s website.

“Some dockyard heritage has been lost in the clearing of the South Yard of the old Royal Naval Dockyard for the erection of buildings for the teams competing in the America’s Cup and the last of the unique ships’ crests have now been painted over,” Dr Harris said.

“However, all of the crests have been professionally photographed and will eventually be available for viewing on the National Museum website.

“In addition, Moresby House, the old headquarters of HMS Malabar of the North American and West Indies Station is being saved and renovated and will soon overlook the South Yard and all the America’s Cup activities in considerable splendour, thanks to a grant from the Government.

“It is hoped that other legacy projects in Bermuda will result as part of the America’s Cup events at Bermuda.”

The South Yard was built in Dockyard between 1901 and 1910 to accommodate the larger ships that were becoming more commonplace across the world. Between the 1920s and the 1940s the yard was used for basic repairs on passing naval ships.

This continued throughout the Second World War while Bermuda was used as a base for the Allied forces. The South Yard remained the Royal Navy’s base in Bermuda for the next four decades.

In 1985 the South Basin was dredged to allow nuclear submarines to come into the South Yard and ten years later the Royal Navy left Bermuda and the South Yard was handed over to the Bermuda Government.

Scores of naval ships left their mark in the South Yard between 1951 and 1995 including well known vessels such as HMS Brilliant and HMS Londonderry that have since been decommissioned.

And even before then in April 1943 HMS Argonaut famously called into the South Yard for repairs after having her entire stern and part of her bow blown off by an Italian submarine.

Heritage preserved: all the crests have been photographed and are available on the museum’s website