Helping to preserve the vessel for the next 10 years and beyond, this new contract will see the iconic ship being overhauled from the tip of her masts, right down to the cradle in which she rests in dry dock. Working in partnership with subcontractors Bell Rigging and T Nielsen & Company, the highly intricate work will be carried out by a team of specialist engineers, helping to sustain the traditional wooden shipbuilding skills such as shipwrights and joinery.
Since July, the company’s engineers have been undertaking vital maintenance work to prepare the ship for the next phase of the ambitious renovation project and have removed the upper sections of the vessel's three masts, as well as the booms, yards, spars and associated rigging.
John O’Sullivan, BAE Systems Project Manager for HMS Victory, said: “This phase of restorative work is necessary to guarantee Victory’s long term future and our project team are looking forward to getting started on the job of maintaining the ship for future generations to enjoy.
“During the recent removal of the top sections of the masts we have kept HMS Victory open to the public and it’s our intention to keep the ship open as we carry out the rest of the work. The restoration will give the visiting public the opportunity to gain an even greater insight into the build of this iconic vessel.”
The five year contract, with an additional five year option, will allow a detailed schedule of work to begin, including the installation of a new fire suppression system to help protect HMS Victory for years to come. A project team will now undertake a full survey of the vessel to identify priority areas, which is expected to include the replacement of shipside planking and repairs to the middle-gun deck, as well as planned maintenance.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Director General, Professor Dominic Tweddle, added: “We are intensely heartened that a new contract is in place for the restoration of HMS Victory. We are looking forward to working with BAE Systems to ensure that this iconic ship is open to visitors throughout. Our new exhibition, ‘Bones of Oak and Iron’ which explains what is happening to Victory and why, is already drawing crowds and as work proceeds it will be constantly updated.”
The project is one of the most extensive restorations of the 246 year old warship since she was repaired after the damage sustained at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. BAE Systems has supported HMS Victory for more than 13 years at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, as part of its military and technical services offering. 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.
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