News that ownership of HMS Victory is set to be transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the National Museum of the Royal Navy is very welcome indeed.
Because this development should finally bring to an end any lingering uncertainty over the future of Nelson’s iconic ship, one of the jewels in Portsmouth’s naval heritage crown.
Turning Victory into a charitable trust is the best of both worlds. Traditionalists will be pleased to see that she would continue to fly the White Ensign as the Second Sea Lord’s flagship with a Royal Navy ship’s company.
But the change in ownership also means she would become eligible for what we are told could amount to tens of millions of pounds in donations and lottery grants that would be so important to securing her future.
All the while Victory remains in the care of the MoD, there has to be a concern over the cost of maintaining and restoring her, as well as promoting her as a major tourist attraction.
With pressure from the government to slash budgets in all areas of the military, there have been understandable fears that Victory would lose out financially as front-line services were protected as a priority.
She is in urgent need of costly repairs to stop her falling apart, but could spending so much taxpayers’ money on her be justified at a time of massive cutbacks elsewhere?
Gifting her to the naval museum in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard means that she would no longer be at the mercy of MoD bean-counters scrutinising any expenditure.
And the great thing is that the public who continue to come to Portsmouth from all around the world to marvel at her and walk her decks would not notice any difference at all to their experience.
We look forward to an official announcement of the change and the day when Victory is freed from the MoD’s strictures, opening up exciting funding opportunities that will ensure she is around for hundreds more years to come.