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World War II torpedo recovery vessel Joyce returns home to Lough Neagh

The Joyce boat on the back of a lorry and trailer.

Decades after being decommissioned by the Royal Navy, the Joyce, an 80-year-old World War II vessel, has returned home and been lowered with great care back into the waters of Lough Neagh.


During the war a torpedo test platform was built on the lough, which still stands today. It allowed for testing the depth and directional accuracy of Mk VIII torpedoes, which were built at a nearby torpedo factory on Randalstown Road in Antrim.



The Joyce, designed by the Admiralty which was responsible for the command of the Royal Navy, operated on the lough from 1943 as a recovery boat during test firing of torpedoes, before it was decommissioned and sold in 1960.


The World War II torpedo testing platform built in Lough Neagh.
The World War II torpedo testing platform built in Lough Neagh.
The Joyce pictured sailing on Lough Neagh with crew during World War II.
The Joyce pictured sailing on Lough Neagh with crew during World War II.

The 40ft vessel has since remained in the same ownership and used as a working boat in Weymouth England. However the vessel came to the attention of a Newry man Gerry Brennan, Chairman of charity Silvery Light Sailing, who was alerted to its Lough Neagh connection by National Historic Ships. The charity, passionate about the restoration of old boats, set about making plans to refurbish the vessel and bring it back home.



Gerry explains:


"The Joyce was used during World War Two on Lough Neagh to retrieve torpedoes made and tested by the torpedo factory.


"It will go back to Lough Neagh as part of the Heritage Centre, showing the history and heritage of the Lough. We contacted Lough Neagh Partnership and Antrim & Newtownabbey Borough Council, who put it to Councillors who agreed that we secure it for inclusion as an exhibit in the Lough Neagh Heritage Centre".


Following refurbishment work by volunteers at Silvery Light’s Community Workshop at the Greenbank Industrial Estate in Newry, The Joyce finally arrived at Antrim Loughshore last Friday, 24 March 2023.


The Joyce being hoisted off the lorry and lowered into Lough Neagh.
The Joyce being hoisted off the lorry and lowered into Lough Neagh.

Local DUP Councillor Paul Dunlop BEM was present to welcome the Joyce home.


Cllr Dunlop told Love Ballymena:


"I am delighted to see the Joyce back were it belongs on the lough! The boat played a significant part during WWII and it is part of the history of Lough Neagh.


"When it first came to light of its availability to return to our shores, it had the full support of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough councillors.


"The boat as an attraction, will now add to the experience of all those visiting the Lough Park in Antrim".



The Joyce moored at Antrim Lough Park.

The Joyce is now moored alongside the beach jetty at The Gateway Visitor Centre, Lough Shore in Antrim and it is expected to open over the months ahead as a visitor attraction.


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