May 2022

  • Modern-day Great Repair offers once-in-a-generation opportunity to see under the skin of a First-Rate ship of the line and tell her story in a uniquely exclusive way
  • Ship will remain open throughout nine-week installation of scaffolding, with some managed restricted access
  • The installation heralds the beginning of a new chapter in the long and varied career of one of the world’s most famous ships.  

One of the world’s best-loved ships and national treasure, HMS Victory, reaches a hugely significant conservation milestone in the 10-year-long project to ensure she is protected for the next half century with the announcement that the ship will go under wraps and be partially enclosed by temporary scaffolding.

A century since Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar was moved into dry dock in 1922, scaffolding specialists, PHD Access has been awarded a £4million contract to enable the next phase of conservation work, which is akin to a modern-day Great Repair that echoes the tradition of large-scale work carried out on a First-Rate line-of-battle ship in the 18th and 19th century. 

The scaffolding installation, which starts Wednesday 24 May 2022, is due to complete in time for the busy summer holiday period and the ship will remain open to visitors but access may be restricted for limited periods. Visitors are strongly advised to keep up to date with the website and @NatMuseumRN
Specialist 160-tonne cranes will dwarf the 62-metre-high ship to erect a multi-level temporary covered access and work platform around the 257-year-old ship which sits in a dry dock, itself an ancient monument.

A temporary building will be constructed over Victory by PHD Access, in stages, to start the process of drying the ship and keeping her weathertight during conservation works. Platforms will eventually surround the ship in phases, encasing it in a secure structure that in phase one will run from the mizzen mast to the fore mast then moving, in phase 2 to cover the bow, and stern at stage 3.

This temporary building will also provide full public access at three levels for viewing of the works allowing for the development of a fascinating new visitor experience where visitors will be able to ascend scaffolding for an exceptionally rare opportunity to see specialist shipwrights at work. 

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said:
“After ten hard years exhaustively studying HMS Victory from bowsprit to beetles (yes really) and then designing and fitting a new high-tech support system, the next stage of the works begins.  Victory will be partly covered to allow rotten wood to be painstakingly removed and replaced.  And the brilliant thing is that our visitors will be able to get close up and personal with the ship and see the works close up under the guidance of our expert ship wrights!  I for one cannot wait and I work with the ship every day!”

Andrew Baines, Project Director for HMS Victory explained:
“Conservation work on HMS Victory steps up a gear now as we enter a hugely significant phase that will temporarily transform her and open up an incredibly exciting opportunity to see her in a new light and interpret her story in a way never done before.

“We need to construct access scaffold, inside the temporary building, to allow our shipwrights and conservators access to the rotten hull planking in order to remove it. Once removed, we must then let what’s left dry out, before we can then make repairs and then re-plank with new timber.”

The decade-long project will ensure the ship is protected for the next half century, as the ship’s rotten outer shell is removed and replaced with new oak. Repairs will be made to the ship’s structural framework and she will be fully re-rigged, in a process lasting ten to fifteen years and costing £35 million. 

Victory’s ceremonial function as flagship of the First Sea Lord will continue and the white ensign will still be flown from the ensign staff.  

Details of the brand-new visitor experience allowing access onto the scaffolding will be announced shortly.  Visitor access to the Mary Rose Museum, which sits alongside the ship, will remain open but with potential small-scale re-routing of visitors.

  • South Georgia: The Santa Fe: and San Carlos: Re-examining HMS Antrim’s Falklands Conflict is a day-long free event at Boathouse 6, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
  • Forty years to the day since the start of landing operations, crew are re-united to recall and reflect
  • The Falklands Myth & Memory, a tri-service examination of The Falklands Conflict will be streamed as a fitting finale to the event

Forty years to the day since Portsmouth-based County Class Destroyer HMS Antrim entered San Carlos Water to start the landing operations to retake the Falklands Islands, a day-long free seminar at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s National Museum of the Royal Navy will reunite key members of the ships’ company to share their memories of events, reflect on lessons learnt and their meaning today.

South Georgia: The Santa Fe and San Carlos: Re-examining HMS Antrim’s Falklands Conflict on Saturday 21 May 2022 will be led by leading defence analyst Rear-Admiral Chris Parry who was Flight Observer in Antrim’s Wessex helicopter.  He will also place the ship’s role in the context of the wider conflict.

The Portsmouth-based County Class Destroyer HMS Antrim can make claim to be the Royal Navy ship with the most intense and impactful Falklands Conflict. Through a deployment of 121 days – with 110 spent at sea - Antrim steamed over 20,000 miles, overcoming multiple enemy threats and the challenges of planning, logistics, refuelling and repair.

As head of the Task Group for ‘Operation Paraquet’ – the re-capture of the island of South Georgia - Antrim, and her Wessex helicopter led the first-ever helicopter-only sinking of a submarine, the Santa Fe, and the landing of forces who forced the Argentinian surrender. 

By 20th May Antrim was deploying Special Forces at Fanning Head to start the landing operations to retake the Falklands Islands. 

The days spent in ‘Bomb Alley’ which followed were well-named when the ship was hit by a 1,000lb bomb which did not explode; it was removed after 10 hours and, ‘dropped gently into the sea on leaving Falklands Sound.’

The day will include a presentation by Rear-Admiral Chris Parry, discussion, a performance by the Royal Marines Association Concert Band and a previously recorded streamed talk: The Falklands Myth & Memory, a tri-service examination of The Falklands Conflict with partners National Army Museum, the Royal Air Force Museum and chaired by TV and radio presenter Caroline Wyatt. 

To register for free tickets to the event only please visit Tickets do not give access to any of the historic ships and museums at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. 

Antrim’s Wessex helicopter affectionately known to as “Humphrey” and one of the most famous aircraft of the conflict, is now on display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton.