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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 03:29 GMT 04:29 UK
Duke to visit Cutty Sark remains
See an aerial image showing the extent of the damage

The Duke of Edinburgh is to visit the burned remains of the Cutty Sark.

The 19th Century ship, which sits in a dry dock in Greenwich, suffered serious fire damage on Monday morning.

Police are treating the blaze as suspicious and are waiting for the wreck to be made safe before continuing their investigations.

Richard Doughty, chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust of which the duke is president, called for help in raising the funds to restore the ship.

The Queen and Prince Philip were already due to open a new planetarium and education centre at the nearby Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum on Tuesday.

The Duke, who helped form the Cutty Sark Society in 1951, will follow the opening with a visit to the damaged tea clipper.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "The Duke was sorry to hear of the fire, this sad setback to an important example of our national maritime heritage.

"The Duke takes a close interest in historic ships and their preservation for future generations and as president of the Cutty Sark Trust since 2000 he has been working closely with them in support of their fundraising."

Cutty Sark on fire

The Trust has raised 18m towards a 25m restoration of the ship, which was due to reopen to the public in November 2009.

More than half the ship, including the masts, had been taken apart and moved off site as part of the refurbishment and was therefore not affected by the fire.

However, the restoration costs will increase substantially following the blaze and the Trust still needs to examine the hull of the vessel to determine the extent of the damage.

Mr Doughty said: "We are appealing for help to close the funding gap and to get us through the crisis and return the ship to its former glory.

"It has been rescued twice before, in 1922 and 1953. This will be third time lucky."

After visiting the ship on Monday evening, Culture Minister Tessa Jowell said: "It's absolutely devastating. This is an icon, not just here in Greenwich but right around the world."

Police have appealed for people who were in the area close to the ship in the early hours of Monday morning to come forward.

Graphic: Cutty Sark damage

Amateur video captures force of blaze

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