Naval History

HMS Victory: Visitors To Get A Different View Of Nelson's Famous Ship

The ship has been given new supports which will allow visitors to see it from below for the first time.

Visitors will be able to see Lord Nelson's famous flagship from below for the first time when Portsmouth Historic Dockyard reopens later this month.

HMS Victory, best-known for her part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, underwent the work as part of a £35m conservation project.

It includes new supports to stop the 3,600-tonne ship from collapsing under her own weight.

Rob Hanway, from BAE Systems, told Forces News that the supports will make the ship feel "as it would have when it was in water".

He added: "Having been sitting on these steel cradles previously for 100 years, it was sagging between those cradles.

"Where we've positioned these props now on stronger points of the vessel, (they) should enable the ship to be better supported moving into the future."

A view of the underside of HMS Victory.

Designing, making, and installing the supports has proved quite a challenge for the team.

Each of the 134 supports is angled precisely to the hull so none of them are identical.

Each one also contains a sensor, meaning the load on the hull can be measured minute-by-minute, alerting engineers to any significant changes.

But, for all their complications, the new supports will allow people to get alongside the ship's hull, giving them a completely different view of the famous ship.

Matthew Sheldon, director of operations at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: "You're actually getting to see the oldest parts of the ship that people have never seen before, I mean, literally never seen and never got down here.

"You see the incredible keel, which was laid down in 1759, as the backbone of the ship, around which the ship was built really, so you see the original elm and copper."

While the support work marks a milestone in the ship's conservation, there is a long way to go before the project is complete.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is due to reopen on Monday 24 August.

Cover image: HMS Victory (Picture: National Museum of the Royal Navy).