PEMBROKE Dock Town Council has been asked to pledge its “moral support” for a replica of one of the most important ships in history to be built in the town.

A relative of Admiral John Lort-Stokes, the last captain of HMS Beagle - on which Charles Darwin once travelled - addressed more than 20 people at Pater Hall last Thursday (October 31) evening.

HMS Beagle Project trustee and co-founder of Darwin Experience, Wales, David Lort-Phillips, was joined by Darwin Centre manager Marten Lewis.

The project aims to build a replica HMS Beagle in Pembroke Dock, but the town faces competition from Puerto Montt in Chile.

The replica has been on the agenda for some time and there is also talk of twinning Puerto Montt and Pembroke Dock.

But Mr Lewis warned that the project had captured the imagination of Chile and there was a “danger” unless that happens here, the ship could be sailing back to Chile rather than mooring up in Pembroke Dock for the winter.

The Darwin Centre – which boosts young people's understanding of nature and science - is being held up as the “flagship educational tool” for the project.

Mr Lort-Phillips said the replica could have a huge impact on the town’s economic future, as well as reviving “the ancient skill of boat building” and forging links with other countries.

“The HMS Beagle is one of the three most important ships in British nautical history, so to see her in Pembroke Dock, bringing in science from across the world, would be really very exciting for the town.”

The 100ft replica is expected to cost around £6.5m.

“We would very much like your moral support for the HMS Beagle as a heritage project for the Bicentenary,” Mr Lort-Phillips said.

Pembroke Dock mayor Cllr Jane Phillips gave a vote of thanks for an “enlightening” talk and added: “I’m sure we will provide any support we can.”