Will the Royal Yacht Britannia be reborn as a floating embassy?

16 September 2016 • Written by Chris Jefferies

Queen Elizabeth II’s former yacht, Britannia, could be turned into a floating embassy under new plans due to be debated in the Houses of Parliament next month.

Conservative MP Jake Berry will raise the motion in the Commons on October 11 and his plans have already secured the support of foreign secretary Boris Johnson, the Daily Mail reports.

Britannia pictured in Portsmouth in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Steve Daniels

Britannia is currently moored in Scotland, where she is a popular museum ship attracting more than 300,000 visitors per year. But under Berry’s plans she would return to her previous use as a yacht for entertaining diplomats and dignitaries.

The notion of building a new royal yacht was raised in 2012, when Prime Minister David Cameron supported the £60 million plan. However, restoring Britannia would likely prove to be a more affordable option.

Launched in 1953 by John Brown & Company, Britannia was used as Queen Elizabeth II’s royal yacht from 1954 to 1997. In her latter years she hosted commercial trade meetings and Berry estimates that she helped to bring in £3 billion worth of deals from 1991 to 1995 alone.

Despite being out of service for almost 20 years, she still captures the public imagination — a scale model of Britannia was commissioned in June as part of the Queen’s birthday celebrations and a Lego replica of the royal yacht was built in Scotland earlier this year.

In her heyday, Britannia could host up to 250 guests at a time and she was crewed by 21 officers and 250 yachtsmen from the Royal Navy.

Measuring 126 metres LOA, she was powered by a steam drivetrain generating 12,000hp for a top speed of 21.5 knots. Her maximum cruising range of 2,400 miles has been put to good use, as Britannia is believed to have cruised more than 1,000,000 nautical miles in her 43 years of service.

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