AN URGENT survey will be carried out of the wreck of the first HMS Victory before it deteriorates further.
As reported in yesterday’s News, the ship, which sank in 1744, has been given to the Maritime Heritage Foundation.
The foundation is likely to employ Odyssey Marine Exploration to examine Victory, which sank off the Channel Islands.
Odyssey discovered the ship in 2008.
The foundation was created to recover, preserve and display artefacts from shipwrecks, and will start the management of the site with measures including sonar scanning that will not disturb the seabed.
Foundation chairman Lord Lingfield said: ‘We are very concerned that natural erosion, damage from fishing vessels and illegal looting may endanger the wreck and therefore we have planned an archaeological survey that will record the site before it deteriorates further.’
The ship is the predecessor to Nelson’s flagship which is preserved at Portsmouth Dockyard.
Defence minister Andrew Robathan said: ‘The gift of the 1744 HMS Victory to the Maritime Heritage Foundation should give better protection to the wreck which is very important to British naval heritage.’
It was one of the most advanced ships of its day, with three decks, up to 110 guns and an arsenal of bronze cannon.
The ship sank with the loss of 1,000 crew including Admiral Sir John Balchin. It is thought to still contain a large hoard of gold.