THE last of Nelson’s frigates, HMS Trincomalee, has joined an illustrious fleet.

Britain’s oldest floating warship - which since 1987 has been berthed in Hartlepool - has become a full subsidiary of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN).

The organisation looks after world-famous vessels such as HMS Caroline, the sole survivor of the Battle of Jutland in 1916, the UK’s only surviving British WW2 era submarine, HMS Alliance, and Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory .

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As the floating museum in Hartlepool can now be marketed under the NMRN brand, John Megson, the Chairman of HMS Trincomalee Trust, hoped it will draw more tourists.

“We are delighted to join the considerable firepower of the NMRN family. It demonstrates just how important HMS Trincomalee is, that she can hold her own alongside such illustrious ships,” he explained.

Christopher Akers-Belcher, Leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, added: “What better way is there to increase visitor numbers to Hartlepool and boost the local economy? We welcome today’s announcement and look forward to working further with HMS Trincomalee Trust and the NMRN over the coming months to see what more we can do to achieve the very best for Hartlepool.”

After being ordered on October 30 1812, the Trincomalee was built in India with teak due to oak shortages in Britain as a result of shipbuilding drives for the Napoleonic Wars. It cost £23,000.

She departed from Portsmouth in 1847 and remained in service for ten years, serving on the North American and West Indies station where she helped quell riots in Haiti, prevented a threatened invasion of Cuba, and served on anti-slavery patrol.

Now based at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience, she attracts about 50,000 visitors a year.

Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Professor Dominic Tweddle,added: “HMS Trincomalee is a historic ship of national importance, it is therefore right and fitting that she join with the National Museum of the Royal Navy to ensure that the broad history of the Royal Navy is accessible and available to all.

“She joins ships and collections throughout the UK and we look forward to working closely with the Trust to ensure that as many visitors as possible can enjoy this maritime gem.”