Engineers begin ‘unique’ restoration project to preserve HMS Victory

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ENGINEERS are working on a unique project to help create a new structural support system for HMS Victory and preserve the historic ship.

Staff from BAE Systems have partnered up with the National Museum of the Royal Navy as part of an extensive restoration to the 252-year-old warship.

An artist's impressions of the new props on HMS Victory. Picture: BAE Systems

An artist's impressions of the new props on HMS Victory. Picture: BAE Systems

Ian McNeeney, head of commercial and business development at BAE Systems, said: ‘We are privileged to carry on our continued support work on HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar and one of the UK’s most popular visitor attractions.

‘The work conducted on HMS Victory, underlines our long term commitment to supporting the past, present and future fleet of the Royal Navy following the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth.’

Andrew Baines, project director at The National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: ‘HMS Victory is a unique museum object of international importance.

‘This type of support is a first for any historic ship, and it’s essential we get it right.

This type of support is a first for any historic ship, and it’s essential we get it right.

Andrew Baines, project director at The National Museum of the Royal Navy

‘The new support system design and the installation process has been painstakingly developed over the past five years.

‘The expertise we have gained, and will continue to gain in the delivery of this project, will not only safeguard Victory’s future but help us to support other historic ships around the world.’

Since HMS Victory first docked in Portsmouth Naval Base, she has been supported on 22 steel cradles and a concrete plinth.

But to preserve her wooden hull the existing cradles, which were installed in 1925, will be replaced with 134 precisely positioned props.

Picture: BAE Systems

Picture: BAE Systems

The props will evenly distribute the ship’s load to recreate the natural stresses experienced on the hull when the ship was supported by water.

The work to restore HMS Victory began in 2011, which included removing the masts and booms before work could begin to prevent water damage and reduce rot.

The project has also seen the ship’s hull repainted and refurbishment of Admiral Lord Nelson’s Cabin and the Great Cabin.

A new walkway onto the ship provides visitors with easier access to parts of the ship that were previously unseen. The project has also seen the instalment of a new fire detection and suppression system.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said “Victory is possibly the most famous ship in the world. She remains a commissioned ship and the flagship of the First Sea Lord.

‘The dry dock, in which she sits, is also the oldest in the world, and this is the first time something like this has ever been done on a historic ship.

‘So we have been really tested with this scheme. Our priority though is to stop the ship from moving, get her into a stable condition and then take the necessary steps to ensure the hull is here for another 250 years.’

HMS Victory is the oldest warship in the Royal Navy’s fleet and is the flagship of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC.

She will remain open to the public as a visitor attraction throughout the restoration project which is due to complete in 2018.

The National Museum awarded the £3m project to BAE Systems.

The ship, which has welcomed more than 30 million visitors since it opened in 1928, will remain open in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.