Last surviving D-Day tank landing craft arrives in Southsea

Final voyage of incredible hulk: Last surviving D-Day tank landing craft arrives in Southsea ahead of move to museum after 300-ton vessel was restored in £4.7million project

  • Last D-Day landing craft arrives in Southsea having been restored in a £5million rescue operation 
  • The 300-ton vessel will now go on to grace Southsea Common in front of the D-Day Story museum
  • Landfall narrowly avoided a German shell fire attack in June 1944, which sank the boat next to her 
  • She was a floating nightclub in Liverpool from the 1960s to the 1980s before sinking in dock in 2010 

The last surviving tank landing craft used at D-Day which avoided German shelling during the landings only to sink 66 years later in a dock on Merseyside arrived in Southsea today as part of its move to a museum.

Landfall, also known as LCT 7074, was restored at the Portsmouth Naval Base in a £4.7million project and will now go on to grace Southsea Common in Hampshire in front of the D-Day Story museum.

The 194ft (53m), 300-ton vessel was one of 800 such boats which carried tanks and military supplies on to the French beaches at Normandy as part of the Allied invasion force of June 6, 1944.

She narrowly avoided a German shell fire attack, which sank the boat next to her, to offload her first cargo of ten tanks, then spent months ferrying tanks and troops across the Channel.

After the war she became a floating nightclub in Liverpool from the 1960s to the 1980s before being taken to Birkenhead to be repaired, only for the local restoration trust to go bust. Work halted and she sank in 2010.  

Restored Second World War landing craft LCT 7074 arrives at Southsea today having been transported from Portsmouth

LCT 7074, pictured this morning, is the last Second World War tank landing craft in the UK and one of the last in the world

LCT 7074, pictured today, has been fully restored in a £5million project after it was raised from Liverpool Docks in 2014

Restored Second World War landing craft LCT 7074 arrives at Southsea in Hampshire in the early hours of this morning

Marine archaeologist Stephen Fisher looks inside the landing craft LCT 7074 in April 2019 as restoration work is undertaken

Restoration work is undertaken on the landing craft LCT 7074 at the Naval Base in Portsmouth in April 2019

Marine archaeologist Stephen Fisher looks underneath the landing craft LCT 7074 as restoration work is undertaken last year

Restoration work is undertaken on LCT 7074 at the Naval Base in Portsmouth on April 2019 before it was moved to Southsea

Marine archaeologist Stephen Fisher looks inside the Second World War landing craft in Portsmouth in April 2019

Measurements are taken inside the landing craft LCT 7074 as part of the restoration work in Portsmouth in April last year

The LCT 7074, pictured being repaired in April 2019, has been fully restored after it was raised from Liverpool Docks in 2014

Marine archaeologist Stephen Fisher takes measurements inside the Second World War landing craft in April 2019

The wood and metal on the ship took a constant battering while she was submerged and were left discoloured and rusty

Restoration of the vessel was overseen by the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council

The move of the craft was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the project incurred an additional cost of £75,000

Important electrical work was carried out including newly fitted living and working spaces and a new funnel

But a £5million rescue operation by the Royal Navy’s museum then saw her raised four years later and restored at the Portsmouth Naval Base. 

But moving the vessel has proved tricky, with her final eight-hour journey to the museum in nearby Southsea initially due to have taken place in the early hours of yesterday before being scuppered by stormy weather.  

From D-Day landings to floating nightclub: A history of LCT 7074

Landfall, also known as LCT 7074, is the last survivor of the 800-strong fleet of specially designed landing craft tanks which took part in D-Day on June 6, 1944.

The ship which spans across 57 metres carried a crew of 12 men and its job was to transport ten tanks onto the beaches of Normandy.

After surviving a German shell fire attack, which sank the vessel next to it, Landfall made it back to Britain and the war then ended.

The ship, not intended to last much longer than D-Day, was then repurposed and used as a floating nightclub in Liverpool from the 1960s to the 1980s. 

During its time as a club it featured in the film Letter to Brezhnev.

By the time it was salvaged from the bottom of Birkenhead Docks during a two-day operation in 2014, it was in very poor condition – and the restoration job since has cost nearly £5million.

The LCT 7074 was floated as far as the coastline of Southsea before the accompanying tug boats were forced to tow her back to the naval base.

Restoration of the vessel was overseen by the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council and the move had originally been planned for June on the 76th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

But it was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and the project incurred an additional cost of £75,000. The mission finally took place during the early hours of this morning thanks to good weather and a high tide.

Landfall was in very poor condition when she was salvaged from the bottom of Birkenhead Docks during a two-day operation in 2014.

After years submerged in muddy water and draped in seaweed, she looked a shadow of the majestic powerhouse she once was. 

The wood and metal on the ship took a constant battering and were left discoloured and rusty.

But the large vessel now gleams following the miraculous repair project. 

The ‘disruptive pattern’ used to help the ship with camouflage was brought back with an external paint job along with replica guns and rocket launchers.

And important electrical work was carried out including newly fitted living and working spaces and a new funnel.

Nick Hewitt, head of collections and research for the NMRN, posted in the early hours of today saying the vessel had arrived in Southsea and workers were waiting for the tide to go out.

He said: ‘Amazing! Lined up, smooth as anything. The comparison to last night is incredible. Now we wait for the tide to go out so she sits on the pad.’

Once onshore, LCT 7074 will be taken to the museum via crane and will sit under a canopy. Mr Hewitt hopes the public will be able to visit the ship from October. 

Landfall, also known as LCT 7074 is pictured in a file image having been restored at the Portsmouth Naval Base

The 300-ton vessel Landfall sank in a Merseyside dock in 2010, where it is pictured partly submerged in a file image

Am operation by the Royal Navy museum saw the 59-metre long vessel (pictured prior to refurbishment) raised and restored

The craft became a floating nightclub in Liverpool from the 1960s to 1980s before being taken to Birkenhead to be repaired

The craft was one of 800 such boats which carried tanks and military supplies on to the French beaches as part of D-day

The vessel narrowly avoided a German shell fire attack, which sank the boat next to her, to offload her first cargo of ten tanks, then spent months ferrying tanks and troops across the Channel (pictured in Liverpool in August 1972)

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