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Collections18th September 2018

Reunited with TS Mercury

When HMS Gannet arrived to Chatham Dockyard in 1987 she was not HMS Gannet but TS Mercury – a shore based Navy training ship that used to be on the River Hamble. The Dockyard then restored her to her appearance of HMS Gannet from 1888.

The story of TS Mercury can be read on board HMS Gannet, but we were delighted when a gentlemen got in touch recently who was coming to visit who trained on board!

David Tulip reached out to The Trust as he was coming to visit his old training ship, that he had not seen since it closed down in 1968. We met up with him to see some old photos and hear the memories…

HMS Gannet as she is now consists of a lower deck, main deck and a poop deck. When she was TS Mercury however she was 3 enclosed decks. David recalled that there was a lower deck where the Juniors slept, a main deck that served as a common room of sorts and the upper deck where the Senior cadets slept – all of which slept in hammocks.

Every morning they were woken at 6am and had to row to shore for showers and breakfast, followed by school. David started in 1965 and completed his GCSEs as part of this training school. The Commander taught them navigation which he thoroughly enjoyed. Having not seen the ship since he left it was fantastic to see the memories come back to him as he stepped on board. Although it looked very different since he was on board due to the restoration, David quickly remembered the places that used to be on board – where he did band practice, where he would have slept and was delighted to see the sign “Deeds not Words” still on board.

The best moment was the excitement when David went to the lower deck where the stories of TS Mercury are…he discovered he was in a photo…

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