INTEGRATION WITHIN THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE ROYAL NAVY
As most of you will be aware it is Navy Board policy that the individual Royal Navy museums become totally integrated within the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN ). This process will deliver better value for money by avoiding duplication of effort and bringing the best available professional expertise to bear in managing the overall collection. It should also improve the marketing of attractions at each of the sites together with enhancing public accessibility as well as providing better career prospects and job security to the staff. This letter sets out the final steps in the RNSM’s integration process.
Of note that, besides managing the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard site, including HMS Victory, the NMRN incorporates the Royal Marines and Fleet Air Arm museums. HMS Trincomalee in Hartepool and HMS Caroline in Belfast also are part of its organisation. More recently the NMRN has taken forward the initiative to include the Devonport Naval Collection and HMS Courageous within its ambit.
As the first stage of the integration process, in January 2011 the RNSM became a charity and company limited by guarantee within the overarching organisation of the NMRN and in April 2014 the RNSM Board of Trustees was reduced to four in number. In the most recent stage of activity, during 2014 the RNSM’s staff and activities were transferred to NMRN to operate on its behalf. This was clearly a major realignment which has now bedded down.
More recently the RNSM’s Trustees have been discussing with the NMRN the next and final stage of convergence. They have agreed that the RNSM will be wound up, leaving a simple Trust to hold the collections of the RNSM and its restricted funds. NMRN will be the sole corporate Trustee of that Trust and Sir Robert Crawford (NMRN Trustee) and myself will oversee the transfer of the RNSM assets. The RNSM’s charitable objects will not change. This arrangement will best legally protect the assets and, of course, the NMRN cannot expend restricted funds for purposes other than that for which they were given. The integration process should be completed by October 2016. Of note Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce has kindly agreed to remain as the Submarine Museum’s President.
Clearly it is very important to retain a strong and effective link with the Submarine Service, and this will be achieved through an advisory committee consisting largely of both serving and retired submariners. It is envisaged that this group will provide the pivotal link to the Submarine Service including its heritage and ethos and will have a formal communications link to the NMRN Board. As at present, a senior submariner will continue to serve on the latter and that arrangement will be written into the Articles of Association of NMRN. The advisory committee is also anticipated to establish a formal link with the ‘Friends’ of the Submarine Museum. Quite separately, means of involving Rear Admiral Submarines and the Submarine Association in the stewardship of the Submarine Service’s heritage are being explored.
The RNSM and NMRN trustees consider that this final integration step is inevitable. It will reduce complexity and thus cost in the operation of NMRN; it is recognised that there is substantial additional cost in operating the significant number of charities currently within the group and it must be right to promote efficiency and effectiveness. Indeed that is what the major funder, the MoD, is rightly pressing for. The NAO has also made a number of adverse observations on the complexity of the current NMRN structure.
NMRN’s significant challenge is, of course, to retain and build the support of the Submarine community and also to further develop the RNSM, building on the sterling work which has been undertaken so far. The vision is that of making the whole RNSM experience very much world class.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss the above or seek further detail.
Chairman Submarine Museum 18th July 2016