HMS Victory is “safely berthed” at last


For the past several years, an immense engineering project has been under way in Portsmouth, England, to prop up HMS Victory, Nelson‘s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Victory was permanently dry-docked in 1922, as her timbers had deteriorated so much due to long neglect that she could no longer remain afloat.  A series of steel cradles was installed to support her hull, but they proved to be a mixed blessing.  The ship began to “hog” above the cradles, and sag between them.  A better solution was needed, and has now been installed.  It’s quite a story, particularly for those who enjoy military maritime history, and those interested in complex engineering problems.  Here’s a Royal Navy video describing the project.

Looks like a good job well done.  I hope Victory endures for many more years.  If you ever get the chance, a visit to her, and to the other ships and establishments making up the National Museum of the Royal Navy, is well worth your time.



  1. Visited the HMS Victory back in 1971 while serving in the US Navy. Was very impressed by this ship but below decks was under 6' high so had to stoop checking out the cannon and below deck areas. Men for the most part must have been much shorter back in those days. The museum was interesting too.

  2. I wonder how long the timbers of the ship can survive? Wood naturally rots, after all.

    There are ways to preserve wood, like perhaps soaking epoxy into it, or maybe something more period realistic (tar? pitch?).

    It just seems at some point, they're going to need to rebuild the ship.

  3. One of my AF friends was an Annapolis grad. He died a few months ago. He'd have enjoyed seeing this video.

  4. It's very hard to maintain these Age of sail ships. The only floating commissioned ship of that age is the USS Constitution (just down the road a bit from me in Boston). Since I've been in the Boston area its had two refits, one major one in the '90's and another less major one recently. She's a bit like the mythical hatchet of George Washington where first they replaced the handle and a few years later the head. I think almost all of the exterior live oak has been replaced at least once in various refits. Most recent refit was fixing decking and various interior issues. I think like the HMS Victory some of the earlier attempts from the early 20th century to keep her afloat didn't improve things. Used to work in Boston about 5 blocks from her, They fired a cannon regularly at 8:00 AM local, often would hear that if I was a bit late getting to work. These days I work from home 20+ miles away. She's well worth a visit if you're ever in Boston.

  5. I toured HWS Victory in 1999. At that time, the guide (retired petty officer?), when asked, said that about 25 percent of her was original, that is to say of Trafalgar vintage. You would not know by looking.

    I had gone there to see Mary Rose, so Victory and Warrior (truly bizarre) were extras, but worth it, and of course the museum is huge. Doing it all will take most of a day.

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