Navy

HMS Trincomalee: Europe's Oldest Floating Warship Gets Fresh Look

It took seven painters five weeks and 185 litres of paint to complete the repaint of HMS Trincomalee.

HMS Trincomalee, the oldest warship afloat in Europe, has undergone an ambitious repaint.

As part of the project, alterations were made to closely recreate how she would have looked when she launched almost 205 years ago. 

HMS Trincomalee, which is at the heart of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Hartlepool, was built in India for the Royal Navy in 1817.

The exterior of the ship has been repainted in the historically correct shades of black and a creamy white.

The changes were inspired by a paint analysis of HMS Warrior, another 19th Century vessel in the historic fleet of the NMRN which was restored in Hartlepool.

Traditionally, the Royal Dockyards used the same stocks of paint for all ships of the same colour, meaning these shades are as accurate for HMS Trincomalee as they are for HMS Warrior.

It took seven painters five weeks to complete the job, with rope access required to hang over the edge to paint the sides of the ship.

The shopping list for their mammoth task included 600 litres of primer, 115 litres of black, 50 litres of white, 10 litres of green and 10 litres of maroon paint and, last but not least, 2,500 gold leaves for the gilding.

In a modern twist, the painting was carried out by Industrial Coating Services, whose expertise has included painting HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, the Navy's two aircraft carriers.

WATCH: HMS Trincomalee celebrates her bicentenary.

The work will also make the ship less vulnerable to the weather, which is crucial for her preservation.

Clare Hunt, Senior Curator for the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, said: "Of course, HMS Trincomalee looks even more magnificent following her paint job but, perhaps even more importantly, her protection from the weather has been improved.

"Included in the painters' tasks was a significant amount of re-caulking of the ship's sides, meaning that seams which have failed and were letting in water, have been sealed again.

"It is just one of the important cycles of maintenance carried out by the National Museum of the Royal Navy in order to preserve this lovely ship," she added.

Cover image: HMS Trincomalee's letters being refitted after gilding (Picture: National Museum of the Royal Navy).