19 December 2018






2 mins

One of the Preserved Ships that you find in the UK is HQMS PRESIDENT (1918). She’s permanently moored at the Victoria Embankment above Blackfriars Bridge in London at the River Thames.

HMS SAXIFRAGE was launched in 1918 as a Flower Class anti-submarine Q Ship (Heavily armed merchant ships with concealed weaponry used by the Royal Navy). She was renamed HMS PRESIDENT in 1922 and moored permanently at the River Thames  as a Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) drill ship. In 1982 she was sold to private owners, and having changed hands twice, now serves as a venue for conferences and functions, and serves as the offices for a number of media companies.

She is now called HQMS PRESIDENT (1918) to distinguish her from HMS PRESIDENT – a Royal Naval Reserve Base at St Katharine Docks. 

She is one of the last three surviving Royal Navy warships of the First World War. She is also the sole representative of the first type of purpose built anti-submarine vessels, and is the ancestor of World War II convoy escort sloops, which evolved into modern anti-submarine frigates.

In 1988 the ship was saved by the charity, Inter-Action Social Enterprise Trust. In President social enterprises included: a base for start-up companies for young people; audio-visual studios; a publishing company; an NGO Advisory Service, and an ‘event deck’ to earn funding for the charity. This period saved her from scrap, and preserved her for future generations. She had become a London landmark, marked on street maps, so was permitted to retain her warship title and name HMS PRESIDENT  with the added suffix “(1918)” to distinguish her from the new Royal navy Shore Establishment bearing the same name. 

 HMS PRESIDENT has been permanently berthed in the river Thames and she’s listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels as part of the National Historic Fleet. 

The present owners plan to present her as an historical resource during the 2014-18 First World War centenary, as the U-Boat campaign of WWI was the greatest peril that Britain faced in 1917-18, and was the most critical naval conflict of that war. As part of the Imperial War Museum’s 14-18 NOW project, HMS PRESIDENT was selected to be a Dazzle Ship of which she was given a new livery, entitled Dazzle Ship London, by artist Tobias Rehberger, to commemorate the work of the artists who created the naval dazzle camouflage of World War I.

She serves now as a venue for conferences and functions and also houses the offices of a number of media companies. She has survived an additional 25 years in this guise, and will reach her centenary in 2018. So once you are in London you will see a vessel in Dazzle Camouflage

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