Britain's Oldest Floating Warship Celebrates 200 Years

HMS Trincomalee marks its bicentenary with events and an appeal.

A Royal Navy warship from the era of wood and sails is marking its 200th birthday. 

HMS Trincomalee is currently Britain’s oldest warship still afloat and forms part of the National Museum fleet which also includes HMS Victory and HMS Caroline.

"When they were built for the Navy they were only meant to last about 25 years”

HMS Trincomalee cannon

HMS Trincomalee was one of 47 Leda-class frigates built between 1800 and 1830. Nearly all of them were built with oak, but the 38-gun Trincomalee, along with her sister ship HMS Amphitrite, were made of Malabar Teak.

“Teak doesn’t rot so much in seawater – it’s not attacked by pests like oak is”

Children visit HMS Trincomalee gun deck

Frigates were light, fast and agile warships that generally concentrated their firepower on one deck. They were no match against a ship-of-the-line like HMS Victory but they could outmanoeuvre and outrun them.

HMS Trincomalee dummy below deck

HMS Trincomalee had a crew of 284 and served in the West Indies and the Pacific.

“It was a more comfortable life than being on shore as being a sailor kept you well fed”

HMS Trincomalee repairs

HMS Trincomalee was decommissioned in 1897 and became a training vessel. The ship then known as TS Foudroyant was brought to Hartlepool in 1987, where it took more than 10 years to restore.

HMS Trincomalee events

HMS Trincomalee reverted to its original name in 1992 and is marking its bicentenary in October with and a series of events, along with an appeal to help restore its rediscovered figurehead.

HMS Trincomalee with figurehead