The money must be found to save HMS Victory

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Whichever way you choose to look at it, £40m is a lot of money, particularly in these straitened times.

But what price can you possibly put on preserving a warship as iconic as HMS Victory?

Iconic is a frequently overused word these days, but in this instance, no other word will suffice.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy is currently putting together a conservation plan, and the above figure is the estimated pricetag for the necessary work.

HMS Victory cannot be allowed to disintegrate.

It is no jingoistic flag waving or looking back on past glories to say she is far too vital a piece of our heritage for that to be allowed to happen.

Raising the funding will undoubtedly be a challenge, and we can be sure that all avenues will be pursued, whether through private backing, lottery funding, or just plain old getting the public to visit her at The Historic Dockyards.

Given her age, it can hardly be a surprise that Victory, the world’s oldest commissioned warship, is showing her years.

And although her seafaring days are well behind her, Victory still plays in important role in today’s navy.

She remains a potent symbol of British sea power, and functions as the First Sea Lord’s flagship.

A tragedy like the fire that struck the Cutty Sark doesn’t bear thinking about, so the installation of a fire suppression system is a welcome move.

While it may not be until 2030 that her masts are restored as a result of this grand project, let us all look forward to the day when we can once more look at HMS Victory in her full glory.

As Lieutenant Commander BJ Smith, HMS Victory’s commanding officer put it so simply and eloquently: ‘It doesn’t feel like a museum piece, it feels like a ship. It is living and breathing.’

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