Image of HMS Victory
  •  ‘World-first’ conservation project delivered in a collaboration between the National Museum of the Royal Navy and BAE Systems, and completed despite UK’s nationwide lockdown 
  •  System of 134 ‘smart’ props makes HMS Victory ‘float’ above visitors as they walk to the base of the ship’s dry dock to view the 3,600 tonne ship from below, for the first time.
In a unique collaboration between the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) and BAE Systems, HMS Victory, the 255 year old flag ship of Vice-Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar has reached a major milestone in a multi-million pound conservation project that has continued despite the UK’s nationwide lockdown. 
Image of HMS Victory video still
HMS Victory
"afloat" again for the first time in nearly 100 years
The results of this extraordinary project are shared ahead of the reopening of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the 24 August. Upon reopening, visitors will be able to view the new system up close for the first time by walking down the Under Hull Path to the bottom of the dry dock, to walk under the enormous hull and take in the extraordinary scale of the body of the ship. 
The innovative system replaces 22 steel cradles which were installed when HMS Victory came to rest in the dry dock in 1922. The integrity of the ship, when in operation, would usually be maintained by the pressure of the sea pressing against the hull and keel. However, without this pressure, over time, the 3,600 tonne ship began to sag under her own weight. Thanks to BAE Systems’ engineering expertise, HMS Victory is now supported by a network of technology which monitors the ship’s weight distribution and enables adjustments to be made, mimicking the variable pressures of the sea. 
Andrew Baines, Project Director from the NMRN says “Reaching this halfway stage, in a two decade long conservation project, is an extraordinary achievement. Each prop has a load cell so we can know, on a minute-by-minute basis, how much of HMS Victory’s weight is being carried, providing the Museum with invaluable insight into her stability and helping us to prevent damage to her structure. Before the pandemic hit we had hit a critical stage in the project, so it was fantastic that we were able to work with BAE Systems to get back up and running within social distancing restrictions so quickly.” 
Rob Hanway, Victory Programme Manager from BAE Systems says “We are delighted to be working in support of the National Museum of the Royal Navy charity, once again demonstrating our commitment to investing in the local community, and contributing to the UK’s collective national heritage”.
HMS Victory will reopen to the public along with the rest of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on 24 August. The reopening will mark a new collaborative approach between the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Mary Rose. This will include the introduction of a new joint ticketing offer allowing visitors to visit  Lord Nelson's flagship and Henry the Eight’s Flagship in one visit. 
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Philippa Clare
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