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New lease of life for HMS Victory

Maritime Services Engineer working on HMS Victory mast
Visitors to HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world, have a rare opportunity to see how the great sailing warships of the 18th century were built and maintained, as a team of BAE Systems engineers has started work on the restoration of Nelson’s flagship.

The ambitious project will be the most extensive restoration of the 233 year old warship since she was repaired after the damage sustained at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The highly skilled operation will be carried out by specialists who, while operating on the cutting edge technology of modern warships, maintain the traditional wooden shipbuilding skills. Engineers have already started the first major task of dismantling the ship’s three masts, bowsprit and rigging, with preparations underway to rewire the entire ship as well as the repair and painting of the hull.

John O Sullivan, BAE Systems Project Manager for HMS Victory, said: “I am very pleased with this excellent start to the masts and rigging removal. The whole operation was carried out successfully and safely and proved the successful teaming of our specialist sub contractor, crane operators, naval staff and BAE Systems’ shipwrights. It also proved that although we are carrying out very complicated and involved work, we can still keep the ship open to visitors and ensure that they can witness and enjoy this very special part in the life of HMS Victory.”

Commanding Officer of HMS Victory, Lieutenant Commander DJ ‘Oscar’ Whild, said: ““I am really pleased with the work undertaken this morning.  The fore topgallant and topsail yards were taken down this morning, safely and without a hitch, with the rigging team doing a fantastic job in difficult conditions.  We estimate that in addition to the two foremast yards removed this morning, approximately six to seven miles of associated standing and running rigging has also been removed. 

“For HMS Victory, there is a requirement for constant maintenance to keep her in good condition and this morning’s work is just part of that process.  HMS Victory remains open to the public and although there will inevitably be some disruption onboard, I urge visitors to come and see the ship whilst this work is underway.”   

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said: “HMS Victory is a national icon. It is both a relief to see the next stage in her restoration begin, but also a real challenge. We are determined that Victory will be open to the public throughout so that they can share in the excitement and thrills of the restoration story."

BAE Systems has supported HMS Victory for more than 13 years at Portsmouth Naval Base, as part of its support services operations.  As well as supporting the oldest warship in the Royal Navy’s fleet, BAE Systems also provides in-service support to the newest additions, the Type 45 destroyers. Acting as Class Output Manager, the company’s engineers coordinate all aspects of repair, maintenance and support to the vessels, helping to ensure that the Royal Navy continues to meet its operational commitments around the world.

Issued by:
BAE Systems, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6YU, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1252 384719 Fax: +44 (0) 1252 383947
24hr media hotline: + 44 (0) 7801 717739

Ref: 128/2011