Hoods Tower Naval Museum at Trincomalee (ත්‍රිකුණාමලය නාවික කෞතුකාගාරය)

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The Hoods Tower Naval Museum is located in the Trincomalee peninsular on a high ridge overlooking the entrance to the inner harbour of Trincomalee within the Sri Lanka Navy Dockyard. The Museum gains its name from the Hoods Tower an observation tower named after Vice-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, Commander of the East Indies Station.

The remarkable history of the Sri Lanka Navy up to the end of the defeat of the LTTE Terrorists is presented to the visitor At this museum.

The old cannon at the entrance, meant to keep the enemy at bay, was excavated from the ground where they had been long buried or recovered from the sea inside the inner harbour area.

The fortifications built by European colonialists were meant to protect the island’s lucrative trade, particularly in spices. They were used either to ward off attacks by the Sinhalese of the Kandyan Kingdom or keep at bay competing European trading companies.

At Hoods Tower, an observation post built by the British that gives the museum its name, World War 2 vintage field glasses on swivel mounts are still in working condition and provide a good view of the entrance to the harbour.

The huge gun emplacements and underground ammunition magazines that makeup part of the museum today were first built in the 1920s by the British. The six-inch guns have a range of about four kilometres and could destroy enemy ships approaching Trincomalee.

Some of the guns are maintained at a functional level for symbolic reasons by the Sri Lanka Navy. In the 1990s the navy developed the location into a naval museum with many artifacts. Much of the museum itself is housed in ground-level and underground basements built during World War II. House here is a collection of weapons, equipment and weapon systems used by the Navy. Prizes of war on display include captured Sea Tiger attack crafts, suicide crafts and LTTE weapons, including an all-terrain vehicle that Charles Anthony, one of the leaders of the LTTE terrorists used.

The underground magazines are impressive construction works with winches and conveyor belts to bring ammunition up to the surface.

The steps leading down into the chamber some 30 feet underground are coated with silica, making them luminous in the dark. This was to help defenders find their way down without using lamps when under attack.

Inside, it is surprisingly cool – the massive walls and well-placed ventilation holes help to keep out the heat. The magazine’s chambers are connected by corridors with sharp turns – meant to prevent shock waves from nearby explosions from reaching the ammunition.

The gun positions have been restored and are well maintained – the massive turrets with the barrels can still rotate.

The gun position itself has holes bored into its concrete sides – to store ammunition for immediate use. The guns themselves were hauled up to the top of the ridge with the use of elephants – as depicted by a painting of the event reproduced on a board nearby.

Three such guns have been restored at the museum. There used to be guns on all the ridges overlooking the harbour entrance. The remains of gun emplacements and an observation post can still be seen on Elephant Island.

One magazine has been turned into a weapons museum with an interesting collection of Sten guns, Very pistols, and an old “coaxial gun” used to pass messages or documents between ships sailing alongside each other at sea.

There are improvised LTTE contact mines with fuses recovered by navy divers. In another chamber are guns, mostly improvised, used in the JVP uprising of 1971.

Primary Source : Trinco’s spoils of war

Map of  Hoods Tower Naval Museum at Trincomalee

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Travel Directions to Hoods Tower Naval Museum at Trincomalee

Route from Trincomalee (Railway Station) to Hoods Tower Naval Museum at Trincomalee
Distance :  7 km
Travel time : 15 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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