On a cold, grey, misty morning 30 years ago today, thousands gathered on Southsea seafront to watch Mary Rose re-emerge from the Solent 437 years after she sank.
The long-anticipated £4m operation, twice postponed, was beset by technical problems with the complicated salvaging apparatus and floating cradle.
But the ship’s skeletal remains of mud-caked timber were in the end successfully re-floated and experts began the long process of restoring the Mary Rose in a dry dock in Portsmouth.
Lifting of the wreck from its location at 50 feet below sea level began at 7am and within two hours the first jagged edges of timber had broken the surface.
A flotilla of boats had gathered off Portsmouth to witness the occasion.
With the ship already suspended underneath a lifting frame, the work required raising the wreck in a specially crafted air-cushioned cradle.
A cannon was fired from the ramparts of Southsea Castle to signal the historic moment.
Yet just before midday one of the pins holding the lifting frame sheared, a steel line snapped and part of the 80-tonne frame smashed down on the hull.
Speaking after the accident, Prince Charles, the president of the Mary Rose Trust, and a seasoned diver at the wreck, talked of his shock.
He said: ‘I was slightly horrified but I thought the best thing to do was to be British and not panic.’
Inspections showed the damage was slight, but further mishaps meant the wreck was not safely installed on to its transport barge until 3pm
Margaret Rule, archaeological director of the privately-sponsored project, said the raising of this ‘fascinating and rare Tudor artefact’ was the culmination of a ‘dream that had gripped the imagination of the world’.
The Mary Rose was rediscovered in 1966 by Alexander McKee, a historian and amateur diver.
Since then over 10,000 well-preserved items have been excavated including weapons, clothes and even a backgammon set.