Tuesday, 12 January 2010

88 years in the history of HMS Victory

by Kathryn Hadley

HMS Victory was moved to Number 2 Dock, His Majesty’s Dockyard Portsmouth, 88 years ago today, on January 12th, 1922, amid fears for her continued survival and following a national appeal led by the Society for Nautical Research. Preservation work began soon after in an effort to restore the ship to her 1805 appearance.

HMS Victory was launched at Chatham Dockyard in 1765 and was commissioned in 1778. The ship continued in active service for the following 34 years and was the flagship of Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

HMS Victory was retired from frontline duty in 1812. Following a warrant from Thomas Hardy (1769-1839), Flag Captain to Nelson and commander of Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar, to save the ship from disposal, Victory was moored in Portsmouth Harbour.

The ship remained at her moorings in Portsmouth Harbour for the next 110 years, where she was notably fitted up as a Naval School of Telegraphy and Signal School. The school operated from 1889 to 1906, when it was transferred to Chatham Royal Naval Barracks.

HMS Victory is still in commission as the flagship of the Second Sea Lord in his role as Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy's Home Command. She is the oldest commissioned warship in the world, although the USS Constitution launched 32 years later, in 1797, is the oldest commissioned warship still afloat.

In Nelson, Trafalgar and the Meaning of Victory Andrew Lambert explains why Nelson’s life and death should never be forgotten.

- HMS Victory in circa 1922 (Royal Naval Museum)
- HMS Victory today (Portsmouth Historic Dockyard)

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