HMS Victory: Preserving the world’s oldest commissioned warship

As part of what contractor BAE Systems described as the most extensive restoration project the 252-year-old HMS Victory underwent following her repair after the Battle of Trafalgar, the world’s oldest commissioned warship will receive a new structural support system for the ship.

Specialist engineers from BAE Systems are collaborating with the National Museum of the Royal Navy on the unique project to help preserve HMS Victory.

Since HMS Victory first docked in Portsmouth Naval Base, she has been supported on 22 steel cradles and a concrete plinth. In order to preserve HMS Victory’s wooden hull, the existing cradles, which were installed in 1925, will be replaced with 134 precisely positioned props. The props will evenly distribute the ship’s load to recreate the natural stresses experienced on the hull when the ship was supported by water.

A computer-generated image of the new suport system HMS Victory is to receive. Photo: BAE Systems

Andrew Baines, Project Director at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “HMS Victory is a unique museum object of international importance. This type of support is a first for any historic ship, and it’s essential we get it right.

“The new support system design and the installation process has been painstakingly developed over the past five years. The expertise we have gained, and will continue to gain in the delivery of this project, will not only safeguard Victory’s future but help us to support other historic ships around the world.”

The work to restore HMS Victory began in 2011, which included removing the masts and booms before work could begin to prevent water damage and reduce rot. The project has also seen the ship’s hull repainted and refurbishment of Admiral Lord Nelson’s Cabin and the Great Cabin.

Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB

A new walkway onto the ship provides visitors with easier access to parts of the ship that were previously unseen. The project has also seen the instalment of a new fire detection and suppression system.

HMS Victory is the oldest warship in the Royal Navy’s fleet and is the flagship of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC. She will remain open to the public as a visitor attraction throughout the restoration project which is due to complete in 2018.

 

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