PLANS to provide public access to a First World War warship in Hampshire have progressed.

HMS Monitor, launched in 1915 and used to ferry British and Common-wealth troops during the Gallipoli campaign, is currently docked in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The M33 coastal bombardment vessel was also used for the Russian Civil War in 1919, covering the withdrawal of Allied and White Russian troops from north Russia.

It was acquired by Hampshire County Council’s museums service in 1990, but currently can only be viewed from the dockside.

Councillor Keith Chapman, executive member for culture, recreation and countryside, has now approved plans to provide visitors with access to climb aboard.

The authority has set aside £250,000 for the project, while £1.8million is being sought from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy will provide an additional £200,000 for the project, and will take over the ownership of the M33 vessel by 2015.

Cllr Chapman said: “If the bid for Lottery funding is successful, then the vessel will become another highly popular public attraction at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard.

“The national significance of the M33, combined with the proximity of the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign, and the 1914-18 Great War, gives us the opportunity to work in partnership with the National Museum of the Royal Navy towards preserving this hugely important piece of the nation’s history here in Hampshire.”