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Lord Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory will be viewable by the public from below for the first time in 100 years thanks to a £35m conservation project.
The ship, which featured in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and is now at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, is undergoing a 13-year revamp.
A new support structure for the 3,600-tonne ship will also replicate the ship being afloat, the National Museum of the Royal Navy and BAE Systems said.
It is due to be unveiled on 24 August.
Environment ‘Major milestone’
This is the same date that the dockyard and ship are due to reopen, following coronavirus lockdown measures.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy and BAE Systems have described the news as a “major milestone” in the ship’s renovation, which began in 2016 after it started to collapse under its own weight.
They said the structure would recreate an environment of being in water.
It will monitor the ship’s weight distribution using 134 “smart props” that will “mimic the variable pressures of the sea” and provide “early warning of faults or weaknesses”, they added.
The system replaces 22 steel cradles which were installed when HMS Victory came to the dry dock in 1922.
Andrew Baines, project director at the museum, said: “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.”
Built between 1759 and 1765, HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world – it is still the official flagship of the First Sea Lord.